Hundreds of New York City educators are expected to gather in Staten Island on Monday in support of DiCapua v. City of New York, a lawsuit sponsored by Children’s Health Defense (CHD) on behalf of teachers and administrators denied reasonable religious accommodation from the City’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement.
The court will hear arguments and potentially decide whether to grant class certification at 11:30 a.m. Monday. A peaceful rally is scheduled to begin at 10:30 outside the Richmond County Supreme Courthouse at 26 Central Avenue, in Staten Island, N.Y. Scheduled speakers include Mr. Kane, lead attorney Sujata Gibson, CHD president on leave Mary Holland, and medical professional John Matland who was fired from his job for refusing to take a COVID shot. The proposed class is limited to DOE workers who sought religious accommodation from the vaccine mandate.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the vaccine mandate, required for all Department of Education (DOE) employees, in August 2021, for the upcoming school year. The requirement was maintained by the current mayor, Eric Adams, until Feb. 6, 2023, two days before CHD argued Kane v. de Blasio, which challenges the mandate, in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In a Feb. 7 statement to The Defender, attorney Sujata Gibson said, “The city’s announcement appears very strategic. The first thing the city did after announcing the end of the mandate was to write to the 2nd Circuit to let them know they paused the mandate. They are now arguing that this ‘moots’ the case. But we remain optimistic that the 2nd Circuit will not allow this type of gamesmanship.” A decision is still pending on Kane v. de Blasio in the 2nd Circuit.
“DiCapua v. City of New York could potentially include thousands of impacted employees who were unlawfully denied access to religious exemptions,” said former New York teacher Michael Kane who lost his job after refusing to get a COVID shot. “This illegal mandate has destroyed the lives of hard-working educators who cared about their students, but ultimately NYC hardly cared about that. Justice for those whose lives were upended, negatively affecting countless family members in the process, is long overdue.”
“The DOE engaged in widespread and open religious discrimination in their implementation of the Covid-19 vaccine requirements,” said Ms. Gibson. “Rather than waste the public’s resources clogging the courts with hundreds of individual lawsuits, we need a ruling that will remedy these discriminatory policies for all impacted workers.”