Judge Taryn Merkl in the federal Eastern District Court of New York granted the motion for a protective order for health care plaintiffs John Does 1-2 and Jane Does 1-3 to use pseudonyms in the lawsuit against Governor Kathy Hochul, Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker, Trinity Health, Inc., New York Presbyterian Healthcare System, Inc. (NYP), and Westchester Medical Center Advanced Physician Services, P.C.
Liberty Counsel represents these health care workers who sued on September 10, 2021, because state and private employers refused to accept religious exemptions from the COVID shot mandate enacted by Governor Hochul and implemented by Commissioner Zucker. On August 16, 2021, Governor Hochul announced that the state will now require health care workers to accept or receive one of the three currently available COVID-19 injections to remain employed in the healthcare profession.
As this case continues in the federal district court, Judge Merkl recognizes the stigma and potential harm of revealing the plaintiffs’ identities to the public. In her order she wrote, “The Court acknowledges that social opprobrium toward individuals in Plaintiffs’ position has fluctuated, and may continue to fluctuate, depending on the prominence of the COVID-19 virus at varying points in time. Additionally, even though Plaintiffs have not established a risk of retaliatory harm, the Court credits that they are afraid and that a ‘chilling effect’ could result from Plaintiffs being required to reveal their identities.”
The court also wrote, “Considering the social and political climate that has surrounded the public debate over the COVID-19 vaccine, the Court credits Plaintiffs’ fear of being harassed, scorned, and intimidated, which could have a chilling effect on them or impact their employment prospects.”
Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “These health care heroes have already been abused and kicked to the curb by Governor Kathy Hochul, and we must protect their identities as we proceed in this case. Forcing COVID shots without any religious exemptions is unlawful.”