In this episode of the New York Mandate Podcast, I talk with New York City public school teachers who recently went back to work after extended periods on leave without pay under the vaccine mandate, along with their attorney Jimmy Wagner.
James and Christine are both veteran teachers with nearly 30-year careers, but when the mandate for teachers went into effect in the fall of 2021, their requests for religious exemptions were denied and they were put on leave without pay. They both pursued legal action with attorney Jimmy Wagner, and their cases are still active.
They, their attorney, and James’s wife Jen, who is also a teacher, talked with me about how they were able to get back in the classroom, some of the core legal issues involved in mandate cases, and how their friendship and Christian faith sustained them through the long period on leave.
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Here are some links related to things we talked about during the episode:
Impact Arbitration Award
This document written by arbitrator Martin Scheinman details the process used by the Department of Education to consider requests for exemptions to the vaccine mandate, as well as the process for putting employees on leave without pay and terminating their employment.
Mayor Adams Announces COVID-19 Vaccination Will Become Optional for City Workers
This announcement on February 6, 2023 was followed by a series of orders rescinding NYC’s vaccine mandates for DOE employees and other municipal workers.
New York Education Law 3020
This section of the state’s Education Law lays out due process rights of tenured teachers in disciplinary cases.
New York Teachers for Choice
This organization of teachers and parents opposes medical mandates for employment. It was founded by New York City teacher Michael Kane.
New York City Department of Education
The DOE manages New York City’s public school system, which is the largest in the United States.
Announcement of NYC Department of Education Employee Vaccine Mandate
This is the August 23, 2021, announcement of the vaccine mandate for New York City Department of Education employees by then Mayor Bill de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter, and Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi.
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 an independent contractor 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 NYMpodcast@protonmail.com.