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VIDEO: New York Mandate Podcast, Ep. 10: Sanitation Worker Curtis Cutler & Liz Cutler

"We’re just two people who love the Lord that said no": A conversation with sanitation worker Curtis Cutler and his wife Liz. Curtis lost his job after his religious exemption request was rejected.

“As Christians, we believe God owns our body, bought with a price. First Corinthians, chapter six tells us that this is a temple of the holy spirit. We believe that Christ shed his blood on that cross, and he bought us with the most valuable price there ever could be. And that was his blood, his life. . . . I'm not going to do anything to violate what's God's property. I'm to be a manager of what's God's. So my body is not my own. I've been bought with a price and I have to manage that very carefully.” - Curtis Cutler

April 2024 UPDATE: This is a video version of the previously published audio-only version of our conversation. The Cutlers are currently living in South Carolina and were featured in a recent New York Times article about conservatives moving to that state. Curtis Cutler is one of the petitioners-respondents in the Garvey v. NYC lawsuit, for which there were oral arguments in a New York State appellate court this month. Click here for more coverage of the pivotal Garvey case.

If you think it’s important for people to hear the Cutlers’ story, please share it!


In this episode of the New York Mandate podcast, I talk with Curtis and Liz Cutler. Curtis started working for the New York City Department of Sanitation in 2015. The Cutlers are born-again Christians, and Curtis is a deacon at the Staten Island church he grew up in.

In spite of that, his application for a religious exemption to the New York City COVID-19 vaccine mandate for municipal workers was denied. Some other members of his church who worked with him at DSNY had their applications approved. Curtis was put on leave without pay in January 2022 and terminated in February. He is currently a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the city.

The Cutlers had purchased their home in Staten Island in January 2021 after years of saving to buy a house. They renovated the home over the next year, with Curtis doing much of the work himself. When he was terminated from DSNY, the Cutlers reached the conclusion that they could no longer afford the home. They are in the process of selling it and moving to South Carolina with their daughter. Their son will remain in New York with family to finish high school.

The Cutlers talked with me about their religious perspective on the vaccine as Christians, the strong opposition Curtis saw to the mandate among DSNY workers, and the role of religious freedom in U.S. history.

We also talked about how New York City’s remote schooling during the pandemic affected their two children, what happened when their son was hospitalized just as the city terminated their medical insurance, and how living in the city has changed for conservative people of faith over the years.

The Cutlers shared some before-and-after photos of the home they renovated in Staten Island. Before photos are on the left; after on the right:

Photos courtesy of the Cutler family.

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Here are some links related to things we talked about during the episode:

Conservative Move
The Cutlers used this site in their search for a new home.

Teamsters Local 831
This union, the Teamsters Local 831, is the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, representing New York City Department of Sanitation workers.

New York State Public Employees' Fair Employment Act — The Taylor Law
This labor relations statute that covers most public employees in New York State dates back to 1967. It prohibits strikes by public employees.

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.

Order of the Commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene to Require COVID-19 Vaccination for City Employees and Certain City Contractors
This is the order that former Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi issued on October 20, 2021 requiring New York City municipal employees and contractors to be vaccinated. This is the mandate that led to Curtis’s employment being terminated.

Order of the Commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene to Require COVID-19 Vaccination in the Workplace
This is the order that former Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi issued on December 13, 2021 requiring all workers in New York City who work in a workplace or interact with other workers or the public to be vaccinated.

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 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 vaccine mandate in New York? Did you take a vaccine against your wishes in order to keep your job? Please get in touch with me at

No One You Know
New York Mandate Podcast
Conversations with New Yorkers who are bearing the costs and consequences of New York's COVID-19 vaccine mandates.