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New York Mandate Podcast
New York Mandate Podcast, Ep. 46: Attorney Austin Graff

New York Mandate Podcast, Ep. 46: Attorney Austin Graff

New York labor attorney Austin Graff talks about the legal obligations of employers and unions in the private sector, and where employees can find help when they think their rights have been violated.

“I don't think we've seen the end of the vaccine litigation. I think it's just starting. . . . Courts go back and forth—it depends upon the judge, depends upon the court—but they're sticking to the COVID vaccine as being a mandate of employment and a requirement that employees just have to live with, unfortunately.” - Austin Graff

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In this episode of the New York Mandate Podcast, I talk with Austin Graff about labor laws and employees’ rights in the private sector in New York. Graff has over 22 years of experience as a labor and employment attorney, and is currently representing plaintiffs in federal lawsuits involving New York City’s public-sector COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Although New York City’s government-ordered COVID-19 mandates for employment are no longer in effect, a substantial number of employers in the private sector have kept vaccination requirements in place. They are more common in some job sectors, such as social and medical services, but can be found attached to a wide variety of jobs.

I asked Graff to explain some of the legal obligations employers have, the obligations of unions, and which organizations and agencies can help workers who have complaints related to vaccination requirements in the private sector.

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Below are some links to agencies we talked about during the episode. They offer detailed information on workforce protections and rights, contacts for inquiries, and processes for filing complaints.

National Labor Relations Board
The NLRB is an independent federal agency that enforces the National Labor Relations Act. It provides processes for filing complaints against both employers and unions.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The EEOC enforces federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, transgender status, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

New York State Division of Human Rights
This agency enforces New York State’s Human Rights Law.

New York City Commission on Human Rights
This city agency enforces NYC’s Human Rights Law.

New York State Department of Labor
The state DOL website provides information about workforce protections, reasonable accommodations, and how to file discrimination complaints.

About the New York Mandate Podcast

The New York Mandate Podcast is an ongoing series of conversations exploring the costs and consequences of vaccine mandates in New York City. I talk with workers, students, and parents who have been directly affected by the mandates, as well as legal and policy experts.

In late 2021, the City introduced a series of requirements for workers and to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. These requirements were put in place through executive orders issued by the administration of former mayor Bill de Blasio. They covered nearly all workers in New York City, in both the public and private sectors. They also barred unvaccinated adults, including parents, from schools.

Current mayor Eric Adams kept the mandates in place until November 1, 2022 for the private sector and February 10, 2023 for City workers, and has encouraged private employers to put their own vaccine requirements in place.

The views expressed in the New York Mandate podcast are the personal opinions of the people speaking, and are not intended to provide medical or legal advice.

Join the Conversation

Have you lost your job, been put on leave, or lost opportunities to work as a result of your decision not to comply with a New York vaccine mandate? Did you take a vaccine against your wishes in order to keep your job? Please get in touch with me at