One of the problems in litigation is whether it is legal for the state to provide medical treatment, but not religious, exemptions.
What has the court done so far?
Much of the focus is on federal district courts in Utica, where plaintiffs, including doctors and nurses, have argued that state orders limit their right to amend their first religion and their right to enter into federal anti-discrimination laws.
“When you make a waiver and remove it a few days later, it’s a sign of targeting religion,” Christopher Ferrara, a lawyer for the plaintiffs in the Utica case, said in an interview.
Judge David N. Hard, who is hearing the case, temporarily barred the state from trying to force a hospital or nursing home to fire an employee seeking religious exemption.
But under Judge Hard’s order, hospitals can refuse to grant religious exemptions and nothing is preventing them from dismissing ineffective staff. Nevertheless, some hospital arrangements, such as the New York-Presbyterian, have indicated that they will not take any action against employees whose application for religious exemption is pending while Judge Hard’s order remains in effect.
Judge Hard indicated he would issue a full verdict within two weeks.
The lawsuit in Utica is not the only court case. Another lawsuit, filed by two nurses on Long Island and a health worker in Syracuse, reached a federal appeals court in Manhattan on Wednesday. The lawsuit was filed by The Patriots USA, Inc., an organization co-founded by a lawyer who was involved in a lawsuit against the need for vaccines in Connecticut.
In an oral argument before a panel of Second Circuit judges on Wednesday, plaintiff’s attorney, Cameron Atkinson, said nurses at Long Island’s Sioux Hospital – two healthcare workers – had recently worked shifts on Tuesday night. But their jobs were in imminent danger, he explained, adding that both were told that “they would be terminated on a rolling basis.”