Staten Island real estate firm sues city over vaccine mandate

Cornerstone Realty says private-sector edict violates its constitutional rights

New York /
Jan.January 11, 2022 02:30 PM

Eric Adams, mayor of New York City (Getty Images, iStock/Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)

A Staten Island real estate firm has sued the city to challenge a mandate requiring private-sector businesses to bar unvaccinated employees from the workplace.

Under the rule, which took effect Dec. 27 in the waning days of the de Blasio administration, on-site employees at all private businesses must show proof of vaccination.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court last week, plaintiff Cornerstone Realty argues that the edict violates the constitutional rights of private enterprises, forcing businesses to either fire unvaccinated employees or face $1,000 fines and providing insufficient methods for appeals.

“Nowhere in the process does the City or the [Department of Health and Mental Hygiene] consider the employer’s liberty or property interests in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the complaint.

The complaint alleges that, due to the nature of Cornerstone Realty’s business — which includes showing properties — its employees cannot work remotely.

As such, the city is violating the constitutional rights of business owners to make a living, the lawsuit claims, adding that New York City has no authority under federal law to impose vaccine mandates on the private sector.

In addition to the city and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the lawsuit also named Mayor Eric Adams and Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi as defendants.

A similar mandate for employees and patrons at bars, restaurants, fitness centers and entertainment venues, in place since September, has drawn legal challenges from theater operators and right-wing groups.

Neither representatives for the city nor lawyers for Cornerstone responded to requests for comment.





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