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New York State Court System Wins Court Order Allowing Reinstatement of Mandatory Vaccination Policy

Paul, Weiss secured the denial of preliminary injunction applications brought by several unions representing employees of the New York State – Unified Court System seeking to prevent implementation of the UCS’s mandatory vaccination policy for all UCS employees.

In August, the UCS implemented a policy requiring all court employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 27, subject to certain exemptions. Shortly thereafter, unions representing non-judicial personnel filed complaints with the New York Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), arguing that the policy violated New York’s Civil Service Law, also known as the “Taylor Law,” on the ground that the UCS had not engaged the unions in collective bargaining before implementing the policy. The unions also sought authorization from PERB to seek injunctive relief. Over the next three weeks, six of the 12 unions that represent UCS non-judicial employees obtained PERB authorization and sought temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions in New York Supreme Court, five in Albany County and one in Suffolk County.

When Paul, Weiss began representing the UCS, two TROs had already been granted by an Albany County judge, who found that union members had shown irreparable harm. Paul, Weiss argued in opposition to the ensuing TROs sought by the unions, but ultimately, TROs were granted in all the actions in Albany County and Suffolk County. Paul, Weiss then filed papers in opposition to the preliminary injunction petitions in all seven actions, and sought to consolidate all of the actions in Albany. On October 15, an in-person argument was held on all seven actions before Justice Adam Silverman in Albany County. Following a three-hour oral argument, Justice Silverman denied the petitioner unions’ requests for preliminary injunctions and lifted the previously entered TROs, thus enabling the USC to reinstate its vaccination policy as applied to UCS employees. In his 36-page decision and order, Justice Silverman found that the unions had failed to show irreparable harm, because they had a choice between being vaccinated and facing disciplinary action, including termination. He reasoned that the loss of a job and wages were economic harms, and therefore not irreparable.

The Paul, Weiss team included litigation partners Brad Karp, Bruce Birenboim, Michael Gertzman, Liza Velazquez and Gregory Laufer, who argued the TROs and preliminary injunction applications; and counsel Jonathan Hurwitz and Amy Barton.

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