‘Not going as far as he can go’: Lawyer explains if the mayor is within legal rights to mandate vaccines


NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio is getting tough on vaccinations. He’s now requiring city municipal workers to get them or get tested weekly.

If they don’t, those workers will be out of work, and he wants private businesses to follow his lead.

Is the mayor within his legal rights to mandate the vaccine? 

“Absolutely. Just like private and public sector employment, employees are generally at will. They could be fired for any reason,” attorney Jonathan Bell told PIX11. “Unless it’s somehow protected based on race, age, religion, gender, disability and some other limited protections, there’s no lawsuit. The unvaccinated is not a protected class recognized under the law.”

There are courts and federal Equal Opportunity Commission rulings that support what the city wants to do. 

“He’s actually not going as far as he can go,” Bell said.

He’s not forcing people to get vaccinated. He’s giving people an option to get vaccinated or get tested. 

“Mayor de Blasio is well within his rights,” said Bell.

The attorney also said the mayor would likely have to bargain with unions, who will likely concede after negotiations.

There are about 340,000 city workers and some will be adamant about not getting the vaccine.

Bell said that is fine as long as people get tested regularly and wear their masks.

He also said the mayor can change those policies “at any time.”

If the city is mandating vaccinations, can a private company do the same? 

“100% yes with limited exceptions,” including disabilities, according to Bell. “The employer does have the right to pass this policy.” 

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