More Than 1,400 City Employees Get Pink Slips for Not Getting Vaccinated

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About 1,430 municipal employees were fired last Friday for failing to get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus as required by New York City, with the largest share of those employees working in the Department of Education, according to city data provided to Commercial Observer.

Fewer than 4,000 of 370,000 municipal workers — a mix of new hires and current employees — faced a Feb. 11 deadline to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or be fired, a stronger requirement than the city’s mandate last year, which put staffers who didn’t get the shot on unpaid leave. Fewer than 2,400 current city workers have been on leave without pay since November 2021, while still receiving their city health insurance benefits, and 1,428 of them were ultimately fired on Friday, according to the city. 

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“City workers served on the frontlines during the pandemic, and by getting vaccinated, they are, once again, showing how they are willing to do the right thing to protect themselves and all New Yorkers,” Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement. “Our goal was always to vaccinate, not terminate, and city workers stepped up and met the goal placed before them. Out of all the new city employees who received notices two weeks ago, only two who worked last week are no longer employed by the city.”

In August 2021, the city required all new hires to be fully vaccinated as a condition of their employment, which included a second vaccine dose. Fewer than 1,000 new employees still needed to meet that requirement as of Oct. 31, 2021, and the city only fired two workers out of the group.

The city agencies with the highest number of terminated employees were the DOE, which let 914 workers go, followed by 101 employees from the New York City Housing Authority, 75 from the New York City Department of Correction (DOC) and 40 from the New York Department of Sanitation. The firings at the DOC come as conditions at Rikers Island — a detention center for those awaiting trial — have deteriorated to the point that the city is struggling to staff the jail. 

As of the end of January, about 95 percent of the entire city workforce had been vaccinated against the coronavirus, with the DOC and the New York City Police Department having the lowest vaccination rates, Commercial Observer reported. 

About 36 NYPD workers were fired on Friday. The NYPD’s largest union, the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York (PBA), previously sued the city to overturn the mandate in October 2021 — though a Staten Island judge declined the group’s request to temporarily stop the mandate, CO reported. 

Out of all city residents, 85 percent have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine and 76 percent are fully vaccinated, though they did not necessarily get a booster dose, according to the city.

Celia Young can be reached at cyoung@commercialobserver.com.