- New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced that effective December 27th a COVID-19 vaccination mandate will be made for all private sector workers.
- This mandate is the first of its sort in the nation, which has raised questions in the media as to whether or not it will hold up in court.
- Will independent contractors and freelancers be impacted by New York City’s mandate?
On Monday December 6th, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced that effective December 27th a COVID-19 vaccination mandate will be made for all private sector workers. These new mandates come in response to growing concerns over the widely publicized omicron COVID-19 variant and an increase in hospitalizations from the delta variant.
This mandate is the first of its sort in the nation, which has raised questions in the media as to whether or not it will hold up in court.
Other important concerns that may arise could be uncertainty regarding who this mandate pertains to and how it will be implemented.
On the latter question, nothing has been said yet. More details on how the mandate will work will be announced on December 15th.
The private sector vaccine mandate in New York City will apply to roughly 184,000 businesses.
Who will be affected by the New York City private sector vaccine mandate?
What counts as a “private sector worker?”
The private sector is any organization or company which makes a profit from their services or goods. This includes trade unions, retail, hospitality, food companies, service jobs, medical jobs, law firms, etc. Most jobs are private sector jobs by this standard.
But what about self-employed workers, such as freelancers and independent contractors?
Technically, none of these categories are synonymous with being an employee. Mayor Bill DeBlasio thus far has only said that it will apply to in-person employees, so elaboration on this matter will likely be made on December 15th.
Can Independent Workers be mandated?
With the status of independent workers left ambiguous for the time being, what about the legal potential for vaccine mandates for independent workers? Would this be permitted by law?
According to Richard Reibstein, partner at Locke Lord Legal Firm, “even where the underlying independent contractor agreement is silent on matters of health and safety or where there is no agreement in place, employers should be legally able to impose a vaccination mandate as a health and safety policy for its worksites.”
Reibstein here is referring to the ability for companies to choose to impose a vaccine mandate on independent contractors.
Will the New York City private sector vaccine mandate hold up in court?
Early last November, President Joe Biden’s administration broadcasted an all-encompassing vaccine mandate for all companies with more than 100 workers. This nationwide vaccine mandate was set to begin on January 4th, 2022.
According to Ian Carleton Schaefer of Loeb & Loeb, the New York mandate is likely to resemble the proposed national mandate in terms of its structure and implementation. So far, U.S. appeals courts have yet to yield in blocking this vaccine mandate. But will the same apply for the New York City private sector vaccination mandate?
According to the Mayor and his corporation Counselor Georgia Pestana, the New York City mandate is, legally speaking, permitted for reasons that the federal mandate is not.
Namely, in the case of the New York City mandate, because its implementation and enforcement are coming from the health commissioner –as opposed to the federal mandate, where these matters were in dispute.
However, Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, expressed her surprise at the announcement. “We were blindsided. There’s no forewarning, no discussion, no idea about whether it’s legal or who he expects to enforce it.”
What is undoubtable about the legal aspect of the New York City private sector vaccine mandate is that there is a guarantee of legal pushback against it. This pushback is certain to come from business owners and employees alike.
Much of the details regarding the New York City private sector vaccine mandate haven’t been released yet. The extent of its reach among New York workers is still ambiguous. Likewise, legally, it is still unclear whether or not the mandate will hold. The mayor is confident, however, that the new vaccine mandate will withstand any legal uproars it faces.
“It is part of life that there have to be some consequences. We’ll figure out what makes sense between now and December 15,” said Mayor deBlasio.