skip to main content

Employment disputes can have far-reaching implications for a company’s reputation, market share and ability to retain and attract talent. When the stakes are highest, employers, boards and senior executives turn to Paul, Weiss for our deft handling of internal investigations and track record of favorably resolving complex employment litigations.

New York-Presbyterian Wins Dismissal of Vaccine Mandate Challenge

Paul, Weiss achieved a significant victory on behalf of New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System, Inc. (NYP), securing the complete dismissal of a complaint challenging the New York state regulation that requires healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 absent a valid medical exemption.

The complaint, filed a year ago in the Eastern District of New York against Governor Kathy Hochul, former NYS Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, NYP and two other private healthcare systems, alleged that the vaccine mandate violates the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights, and that the employment actions taken by NYP and the other private hospital defendants to comply with the regulation violate Title VII. The plaintiffs sought injunctive relief, declaratory judgment and damages.

NYP and the other defendants filed motions to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiffs’ constitutional claims are foreclosed by Second Circuit precedent. The defendants also argued that the Title VII claims should be dismissed both for failure to exhaust administrative remedies and as a matter of law, given that the accommodation the plaintiffs sought—to receive religious exemptions that would enable them to work in their patient- and staff-facing healthcare roles unvaccinated—would violate the mandate. Paul, Weiss argued the motion on behalf of all defendants.

In her September 30 order, Judge Ann Donnelly dismissed the complaint in its entirety. In particular, while noting that the Title VII claims could be dismissed solely on the basis of the plaintiffs’ failure to exhaust administrative remedies, she held that the claims fail on the merits, agreeing with our argument that the accommodation sought would impose an undue hardship under Title VII because it would require NYP and the other hospital defendants to violate state law and expose patients and other healthcare workers to the COVID-19 virus.

The court had previously dismissed the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction as moot in light of the Second Circuit’s opinion in We the Patriots USA v. Hochul. The vaccine mandate has been in effect since November 2021.

Paul, Weiss has advised NYP on the implementation of its COVID-19 vaccination policy for employees since June 2021.

The Paul, Weiss team included litigation partners Liza Velazquez, who argued the motion to dismiss, Michael Gertzman, Bruce Birenboim, Jeh Johnson, Gregory Laufer, Loretta Lynch, Jeannie Rhee and Kannon Shanmugam; and counsel Jonathan Hurwitz.

© 2022 Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

Privacy Policy