Mayor De Blasio Imposes Vaccination Requirements On Private Businesses
New York City announced today that effective December 27th, all employees at private sector businesses must have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. According to the New York Times, “There is no testing option as an alternative.” The City expects to publish more detailed rules for implementation and enforcement by December 15th. Mayor de Blasio stated that the new rules may involve penalties.
We have long supported vaccine mandates to promote public health in the City, but we wonder how the City intends to implement and enforce this one. Unlike municipal employees, the City cannot fire private employees. Moreover, the new mandate raises numerous questions, including:
1. Consistency with Union Agreements. The Real Estate Board recently endorsed a “Memorandum of Understanding” with Local 32BJ setting out detailed procedures before unvaccinated employees can be terminated. (See our E-mail blast from October 15th.) The mandate conflicts with this Memorandum. What should owners do?
2. Will Eric Adams Enforce the New Mandate? Mayor de Blasio’s term ends on January 1, 2022. Will Eric Adams maintain – or more important – enforce the newly implemented mandate while dealing with all the other issues of settling in as Mayor?
3. Is the Mandate Even Legal? At least one law firm based in Staten Island has already announced that it will be filing a class action suit against the mandate. Moreover, recently a federal court invalidated the OSHA mandate that employees must be vaccinated if the employer has more than 100 workers. The court stated that the mandate exceeded OSHA’s authority. Mayor de Blasio insists that the Health Commissioner has the legal authority to issue the mandate. Is he correct?
4. Who will Enforce the Mandate? As pointed out in the Times article, if a small business has three unvaccinated employees out of six, enforcing the mandate could close down the business. What employer would do that? More likely, it will be used as leverage by larger employers.
5. Application to Booster Shots. Can the mandate be used to require booster shots (eventually) as well as the one or two-shot regime?
We await with interest the Rules of the Department of Health relating to the mandate that are supposed to come out by December 15th.
SPEAKING OF MANDATES….
Cooperatives and condominiums in New York City should be aware of new mandates that either go into effect on January 1, 2022 or are already in effect for some buildings and are being extended to others:
1. Inspection of Parking Garages. The first physical inspection cycle covers mostly garages below 14th Street (reporting cycle is two years, reinspection cycle is six years). The condition report is similar to what is required under Local Law 11 (façade inspections).
2. Inspection of Gas Piping. Building owners in Community Boards 2, 5, 7, 13 and 18 in all boroughs must have their gas piping inspected by December 31, 2021 or they face fines. If you don’t have gas piping, you still have to submit a certification to that effect. In 2022, buildings in Community Boards 4, 6, 8, 9 and 16 must conduct their inspections.
And let’s not forget about the mandates for installing stove knob covers, energy efficiency improvements, upgraded elevator brake systems, enhanced façade inspections, independent elevator certifications…. Are building owners going to be able to shoehorn their compliance costs into existing rents to cover these increased expenses?
Have a wonderful holiday, and for more information, please contact Ken Jacobs.