Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Denial of NYPD Officer's Religious Objection to Vaccination Was Arbitrary and Capricious

 In Grullon v. City of New York, (NY County Sup. Ct., Feb. 3, 2023), a New York state trial court held that the New York Police Department's denial in internal appeals of a police officer's religious objections to the Department's Covid vaccine mandate was arbitrary and capricious. The court said in part:

[D]espite Petitioner's detailed submission, the Appeals Panel failed to even mention any of Petitioner's arguments, let alone refute them as being non-religious in nature or not sincerely held beliefs. The decision also failed to mention NYPD's underlying decision denying Petitioner's application or the basis of the decision including the reasons listed on the checked boxes. The decision also failed to mention that it was affirming NYPD's denial and that it agreed with any of the reasons for which the underlying denial was based. Simply, the denial of the appeal is devoid of any explanation, reasoning, or support for its determination that Petitioner's request for a reasonable accommodation did not meet criteria. The Appeals Panel failed to state what the criteria was for obtaining a reasonable accommodation, it failed to include which criteria Petitioner's request failed to satisfy, or any details or support for its determination. Without any explanation or details, the purported reason provided that it did not meet criteria is tantamount to no reason at all.

The court concluded that the officer is entitled to employment with a reasonable accommodation of weekly Covid testing.