New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that all healthcare workers in New York State must receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by September 27, 2021. The mandate includes staff at hospitals and long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, adult care, and other congregate care settings.  In connection with this announcement, the New York State Department of Health will issue Section 16 Orders requiring all hospital, long-term care facilities, and nursing homes to develop and implement a policy mandating employee vaccinations.

Consistent with guidance from the EEOC, as well as under the New York State and New York City Human Rights Laws, requiring that employers consider the potential for reasonable accommodations to mandatory vaccination policies on the basis of disability or sincerely held religious beliefs, the announcement confirms that “limited exceptions [will be made] for those with religious or medical reasons” for not being vaccinated.

The announcement also suggests that additional mandates may be forthcoming. Specifically, the announcement states that “[the governor has] strongly urged private businesses to implement vaccinated-only admission policies, and school districts to mandate vaccinations for teachers. Neither will occur without the state legally mandating the actions — private businesses will not enforce a vaccine mandate unless it’s the law, and local school districts will be hesitant to make these challenging decisions without legal direction.”

This update follows Governor Cuomo’s earlier announcements requiring MTA and Port Authority employees and state employees and patient-facing employees in state-run hospitals, to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Labor Day.  New York City has also issued a mandate requiring patrons and workers of indoor dining, indoor fitness, and indoor entertainment venues to have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine beginning August 17, 2021.

Healthcare employers taking steps to comply with the new mandate are reminded that, in accordance with New York State Labor Law Section 196-c, employers are required to provide workers up to four hours of paid leave for each COVID-19 vaccine injection they receive, at the employee’s regular rate of pay. Further, OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard issued on June 21, 2021 requires that covered employers in work settings where employees provide health care or health care support services “support COVID-19 vaccination for each employee by providing reasonable time and paid leave … to each employee for vaccination and any side effects experienced following vaccination.”

More guidance on this mandate, including penalties for workers who remain unvaccinated, is expected to follow.

*          *          *

Proskauer’s cross-disciplinary, cross-jurisdictional Coronavirus Response Team is focused on supporting and addressing client concerns. Visit our Coronavirus Resource Center for guidance on risk management measures, practical steps businesses can take and resources to help manage ongoing operations.

Photo of Evandro Gigante Evandro Gigante

Evandro Gigante is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration group and the Hiring & Terminations group. He represents and counsels clients through a variety of labor and employment matters, including allegations of…

Evandro Gigante is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration group and the Hiring & Terminations group. He represents and counsels clients through a variety of labor and employment matters, including allegations of race, gender, national origin, disability and religious discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, defamation and breach of contract. Evandro also counsels employers through reductions-in-force and advises clients on restrictive covenant issues, such as confidentiality, non-compete and non-solicit agreements.

With a focus on discrimination and harassment matters, Evandro has extensive experience representing clients before federal and state courts. He has tried cases in court and before arbitrators and routinely represents clients before administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as state and local human rights commissions.

Photo of Harris Mufson Harris Mufson

Harris M. Mufson is a partner in Proskauer’s Labor & Employment Law Department, where he serves as co-head of the Firm’s Whistleblowing & Retaliation Practice Group and the Disability, Accommodation & Leave Management Practice Group. He is highly regarded as a trusted advisor…

Harris M. Mufson is a partner in Proskauer’s Labor & Employment Law Department, where he serves as co-head of the Firm’s Whistleblowing & Retaliation Practice Group and the Disability, Accommodation & Leave Management Practice Group. He is highly regarded as a trusted advisor to clients in a wide range of industries regarding significant employment issues. Harris has vast expertise in employment matters, representing employers in disputes regarding discrimination and retaliation, whistleblowing, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, defamation, breach of contract, wage and hour, and restrictive covenants. In addition to litigating, Harris counsels clients on compliance with employment-related laws, as well as the development, implementation and enforcement of personnel policies and procedures. Additionally, he has conducted numerous internal investigations regarding sensitive employment matters.

Photo of Laura Fant Laura Fant

As an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-chair of the Disability, Accommodations & Leave Management Practice Group, Laura Fant frequently counsels on employee leave and accommodation matters involving the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act…

As an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-chair of the Disability, Accommodations & Leave Management Practice Group, Laura Fant frequently counsels on employee leave and accommodation matters involving the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act and related state and local laws. She also provides general employment counseling and has experience reviewing and updating employee handbooks and company policies, as well as providing training on topics such as discrimination and harassment in the workplace, social media, and the accommodation of physical and mental disabilities. Laura is a frequent contributor to Proskauer’s Law and the Workplace blog.

Before joining the Firm, Laura was assistant general counsel to the City of New York’s Office of Labor Relations. Prior to that, she was law clerk to Judge Jose L. Fuentes of the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, and a judicial intern to Judge Laura Taylor Swain of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Photo of Alex Downie Alex Downie

Alex Downie is a law clerk in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group. He previously worked as a summer associate at Proskauer and as an intern at the Department of Justice.

Alex earned…

Alex Downie is a law clerk in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group. He previously worked as a summer associate at Proskauer and as an intern at the Department of Justice.

Alex earned his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he served as the executive editor of the Virginia Law & Business Review. He also volunteered for the school’s employment law clinic, where he assisted with a variety of employment-related matters ranging from employment discrimination to wage and hour disputes.

Photo of Megan Childs Megan Childs

Megan Childs is an associate in the Labor Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group.