Did a 7 hour deposition reveal evidence that NYC violated the Constitution when firing NYC workers?
Watch interview of our attorneys Sujata Gibson & Barry Black on GOOD MORNING CHD
by Michael Kane
There are two lawsuits against NYC we are monitoring closely – Kane v. de Blasio and New Yorkers for Religious Liberty (NYFRL) v. NYC. The same attorneys are working on both cases, and both cases are providing synergy and precedent for one-another. In the NYFRL case a recent 7-hour-long deposition revealed critical information that may prove NYC violated the Constitution when denying religious exemptions to city employees.
It has already been established that the original arbitration process used against teachers and educators was “Constitutionally suspect,” so much so that even NYC’s lawyers admitted to this in open court back in November of 2021.
However NYC then applied a new process it named the “Citywide Panel” that they swore (pinky swear!) would be a Constitutional process. It now appears this too was an illegal process. For a long time (over 6 months) NYC has completely resisted letting anyone know exactly what the new process was, how it was created or applied. But that changed when the Court allowed our attorneys to depose one of the individuals involved in creating and administering the Citywide Panel.
In the deposition of Eric Eichenholtz, Chief Assistant Corporation Counsel working with NYC’s Citywide Panel, Eichenholtz revealed they had no objective criteria to determine if a religious exemption should be accepted or denied.
According to Attorneys Sujata Gibson and Barry Black representing NYC workers, “Eichenholtz makes it abundantly clear that there are no objective criteria upon which to either grant or deny an application. Government here is concededly engaged in nothing but unfettered discretion…Eichenholtz testifies that the “determinations are based on the balancing of a variety of factors, and [required] understanding the particular factors that may have been at play in any particular case because these determinations truly are individualized.” [emphasis added]
Gibson and Black stated the above in a short brief filed with the Court on Friday June 3rd. You can download and read the brief as a pdf file downloadable at the very end of this report.
Individualized decisions for who is granted or denied a religious exemption cannot be arbitrary and, if there was no objective criteria, the process is arbitrary, capricious and illegitimate.
Now practically, what does this mean?
We have been fighting in court for over 8 months now. We have proven once before that NYC violated the Constitution in their illegal religious exemption process. So what did NYC get? They got a second bite at the apple.
“No no! We swear this time we will do it right!”
Now here we stand again, with evidence showing this “new process” is also illegitimate. Add this on top of the fact that Mayor Eric Adams has made “carve outs” for high end performers and athletes to keep their jobs but no such special treatment for the working class. Those of us who lost our jobs can’t stop wondering when this charade will finally end?!
Eventually the courts must rule on these cases, so it will end at some point. As time passes our case is getting stronger and stronger while the City’s case is collapsing. Unfortunately there is no way to know how much longer the “wheels of justice” will spin for NYC workers.
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