The below letter was written by healthcare worker John Matland and sent to his former employer Northwell Health. Matland informs Northwell that their denial to interview unvaccinated healthcare workers is illegal and violates the recent court order from Judge Gerard J. Neri in the recent victory won by Sujata Gibson and Children’s Health Defense. – mk
Staten Island University Hospital, Northwell Health, 1199, members of the media and legal groups,
I write again, requesting to be restored to my position in light of the NY Supreme Court ruling that was issued January 13, 2023. If I cannot be made whole and restored to my original position, can I apply for a position with Northwell Health while being unvaccinated for COVID-19, while holding true and sincere religious beliefs against being vaccinated against COVID-19? This dark time in our history of gross mistreatment of our fellow citizens can only be mended with admission of how unlawful these mandates truly were. I believe this process requires complete transparency, hence why the media is CC’d on this request. Accountability is paramount going forward to fix healthcare in our state & city.
Recent requests of staff to return to work have again been denied. Included in this email is a screen shot that has made its way to me (in case the media wants to get a statement as we work towards fixing these issues together). To my understanding, in September 2021, Northwell Health did accept everyone’s religious belief to be true and sincere but claimed it couldn’t keep the unvaccinated employed due to undue hardship. This hardship even applied for employees working from home, as no matter who it was, they would spread COVID-19. Three months after termination of all unvaccinated employees thousands upon thousands of vaccinated employees still came down with COVID, leaving the undue hardship theory and hypothesis completely destroyed in its wake. Now the court ruling deems the mandate of Governor Kathleen C. Hochul and commissioner of health Mary T. Bassett is, “null, void and of no effect.”
We were terminated without unemployment benefits while a TRO was in place for allowing the organization to accept our exemptions and the ability to accept our reasonable accommodations. NY Healthcare has suffered tremendously and none of this “Raised Health”.
In my and many other employee cases a major concern was raised about how this specific vaccination would effect our reproductive ability. Throughout my 108 page religious exemption request this was referenced as a major issue for me personally. When I had my appeal hearing for unemployment (which Staten Island University Hospital Northwell Health no-showed), I testified about my beliefs to which the courts agreed my beliefs are true and sincere.
I believe Staten Island University Hospital Northwell Health has broken New York Labor Law Section 203-e. 203-e referenced from Northwell Health’s handbook states, “an employer is prohibited from discriminating against or taking any retaliatory action against any team member on the basis of the team member’s of dependent’s reproductive health decision making.” This Labor Law also states the following, “In a civil action brought by a team member for violating this law, the court may award damages, including but not limited to back pay, benefits, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs, injunctive relief against the employer, reinstatement, and liquidated damages.” Being that I never agreed to any new terms of employment, that at the time of termination there was a TRO on refusing Religious Exemptions and there is no longer an unlawful mandate, refusal to rehire is an additional act of discrimination and retaliation.
Yet now with the court’s ruling, those of us that have been discriminated against, harassed, experienced undue financial hardship, endured mental anguish among many other issues are still awaiting a decision if we will receive the personal time we had in our banks upon termination. This as well the life time bank of 1 week time off for our service during the height of the pandemics was unjustly taken from us.
Studies continue to emerge about risks associated with the COVID-19 vaccines and even new studies yielding a negative efficacy that seems to exist with those that have had the vaccine. I urge Northwell Health to trust the emerging science and bring back all terminated employees and restore respect to Healthcare in our state.
So for the sake of those asking for their job back and to be made whole, perhaps Northwell Health can issue an official statement to clarify it’s stance toward rehiring unvaccinated terminated employees and specifically ones who hold religious beliefs or make a reproductive choice against being vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccinations.
As it stands, it is 100% legal for Northwell to hire unvaccinated workers and accept religious exemptions as it is constitutionally protected. There are no longer any NYC private sector mandates either. I also hope 1199 is ready to organize and stand for workers like myself that have paid union dues year after year, only to be terminated when we needed our union the most. The time is now.
My last email and USPS overnight mail that was signed for by HR at 500 Seaview Ave. requested for me to be made whole and returned to my position held for 15 years. I never received a response. I look forward to a response this time around.
Any media members or lawyers that are interested in connecting, please do not hesitate to reach out.
John Matland R.T.(R)(CT)(ARRT),L.R.T.
(Original email Included files, a screen shot of previous denial to an unvaccinated employee and the ruling from a New York Supreme Court.) Find ruling here.
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