New Jersey Appeals Court Closes Door on Challenges to Public Employer COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates
The Appellate Division recently issued an employment law decision in the case of Matter of City of Newark and Newark Police Superior Officers’ Association, et al., concerning the ability of public employee unions to challenge the City of Newark’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement. The Court expressly held that the City has the right to require these vaccines as a requirement of continued employment. Moreover, it held that not only does it have that right, but it has no concurrent duty to negotiate with unions over the requirement.
Although this case was decided in the context of whether the vaccine requirement was a matter which needed to be negotiated between the City and its law enforcement employee unions, it appears to slam the door on objections by public employees to employer COVID vaccine mandates, and it probably shuts the door for private sector employees to make that argument as well.
The Appellate Division explained: “When a public health emergency exists, governmental entities, including local authorities, have a recognized right to require vaccinations.” The Appellate Division explained that this right exists even in the absence of a statute giving the City that authority.