NYC vaccine mandate exemption likely to trigger new lawsuits

Now that Mayor Eric Adams has created an exception to the private sector vaccine mandate for the city's professional athletes and performers, a flurry of legal maneuvering is expected. 

"Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely," attorney Rachel Demarest Gold said.

Demarest Gold added that while there might be a valid reason for the mandate change — athletes generally play on a court or field, away from the general public — she nonetheless said plaintiffs will argue "disparate treatment."

"As long as there are people who feel that they've been treated differently for reasons that aren't legitimate, there are legal remedies," Demarest Gold said. "And they have the right to pursue those."

Louis Gelormino, an attorney with Staten Island law firm F&G Legal Group, has brought a few so far unsuccessful challenges to various vaccination mandates, including a private-sector class-action lawsuit. He said the mayor's move has effectively created two different classes of people. In his view, one class is now benefiting from the so-called "Kyrie Carveout" and another class can still be fired from their jobs for refusing a vaccine. 

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Even the man who helped craft the city's private sector vaccine mandate — Dr. Jay Varma — believes the city has now opened itself up to legal challenges. 

"This is a rule put in place for public health reasons," Varma told Fox 5 News. "But there really is no public health justification why millionaire athletes don't have to get vaccinated but other people do."

Varma was Mayor Bill de Blasio's health adviser and now runs the Center for Pandemic Prevention and Response Department at Weill Cornell Medicine.

"It has to apply pretty much to everybody. And if you have an exemption, it has to have a strong rationale. And that's why the employer mandate was written like [it was]," Varma said. "If you're a New York City-based organization and you employ at least one person or more, everybody is included. It's not based on your size or the type of activity that you do."

Indeed, Gelormino said he may have news to share by Monday.

"We're looking into all available legal remedies," he said.