ALBANY, N.Y. October 16, 2009 - A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of three New York State United Teachers members employed by the Stony Brook University Medical Center seeking to block a mandate by the state Health Department that health workers be inoculated against seasonal influenza and this year's H1N1 virus.
The suit filed late Thursday in state Supreme Court in Albany County seeks a preliminary injunction barring the state Health Department from requiring the three Long Island workers - an x-ray technician, physical therapist and respiratory therapist - to be vaccinated annually, and as a pre-condition to employment. New York is reportedly the only state requiring health workers in hospitals, outpatient clinics and homecare programs to be inoculated against the H1N1 virus.
The suit argues the Health Department mandate exceeds the authority granted to it by the Legislature by requiring the vaccinations; violates state rule-making procedures - including requirements of notice and public comment - by declaring an emergency when none exists; is arbitrary and capricious; and deprives the three workers of their constitutionally protected liberty by requiring an unwanted vaccination.
"This suit does not weigh in on the safety of the H1N1 vaccination or the potential seriousness of an H1N1 outbreak," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "It does, however, seek to protect the rights of workers to make informed choices as individuals in deciding whether or not to be vaccinated."
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 600,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.