NYC worker questions if new COVID-19 vaccine mandate negates religious exemption


I have a religious exemption from all vaccine mandates under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, but now New York is mandating the COVID vaccine for all NYC workers and it appears they won’t honor the religious exemption. Our Mayor sucks. How can he do this? Is it legal?

Who am I to argue with the opinion of a reader?
But with respect to your question, it is an excellent one and I was curious about it myself. I thought, “that can’t stand up in court.” Well, apparently three health care workers were curious too and challenged it in court and won. It hasn’t been widely reported, but the court granted a temporary injunction and NYC workers who have a religious exemption do not have to get vaccinated. The city is also obligated to make a reasonable accommodation. There will be more to come in this hotly contested debate. As for your feelings about the mayor, that problem will be resolved in a few short weeks.

An employee had a religious exemption from vaccine mandates, but now NYC’s new mandate requiring all workers to be vaccinated in the city might negate that.

My employer is mandating the vaccine. I don’t want to get vaccinated and I refuse to quit my job so I will likely be fired. Am I eligible for unemployment benefits?

Workers qualify for unemployment benefits in cases of “eligible job separation.”
What constitutes eligible job separation can vary depending on the state. In most, workers can collect benefits after they are laid off, quit a job for “good cause” or get fired for a reason other than “misconduct.” However, despite what may be reported elsewhere, refusal to comply with a vaccine mandate is unlikely to be regarded as “misconduct.” It’s not in employers best interests to lead you to believe that you would be eligible for benefits, and they may challenge your claim, but if you do lose your job as a result of not complying with the mandate I think the chances are good that you will still qualify, even if you didn’t claim a disability or religious exemption.

Gregory Giangrande has over 25 years of experience as a chief human resources executive and is dedicated to helping New Yorkers get back to work. E-mail your questions to Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande and at


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Kathy Lewis

Kathy Lewis is an all-around geek who loves learning new stuff every day. With a background in computer science and a passion for writing, she loves writing for almost all the sections of Editorials99.

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