Vaccination Mandates: New York City and Other Key Vaccination Laws

by Lana L. Rupprecht, Esq. - AVP Product Compliance

& Marti Cardi, Esq. - Senior Compliance Consultant and Legal Counsel,

December 07, 2021


New York City Vaccine Mandate for Private Businesses

What Happened?

Yesterday, New York City (NYC) announced a vaccination mandate applicable to private businesses with employees working in NYC. Here are the key points employers should know.

  • All private employers must require every NYC employee to have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by December 27th.
  • This vaccine requirement is applicable to all private employers with employees in NYC, regardless of the size of the business.
  • The mandate is based upon a directive from NYC Health Commissioner, Dr. Dave A. Chokshi.
  • Mayor de Blasio, stated in his announcement that vaccinations are the “central weapon in the war against COVID.”
  • The mayor also stated he wanted to take a preemptive strike in response to the presence of the Omicron variant and other factors such as colder weather and holiday events attributed to an ongoing rise in COVID-19 cases.
  • You can watch the complete announcement here.

Will there be Written Materials or Guidance?

The NYC news release summarizing the Mayor’s announcement can be found here. There are several unconfirmed questions at this point such as whether testing will be permitted as an alternative, whether remote workers are covered and the penalties for failing to comply with the mandate.

On December 15th, NYC will publish an “enforcement and reasonable accommodation guidance.”

The mayor further stated that NYC would be setting up a call center to answer questions and provide a strong outreach center to support impacted businesses.

Are Religious and/or Medical Exemptions Permitted Under the Mandate?

Employees may request religious and/or medical accommodations in accordance with federal, New York state and NYC law. Under the NYC Human Rights law, most employers must engage in a “cooperative dialogue” and good faith “written or oral dialogue” to discuss the employee’s accommodation needs. This NYC law requires employers to memorialize in writing whether any accommodation was granted or denied and provide a copy to the employee.

The law can be found here. Guidance on the NYC Human Rights laws is available here.

We will know more once the December 15th guidance is published. Meanwhile, here is the Key to NYC Pass guidance for employers. The Key to NYC Pass is a vaccine mandate currently applicable to NYC customers and workers using NYC indoor dining, fitness, and entertainment. This prior guidance may help employers predict the requirements and reasonable accommodations for the upcoming mandate.

What is Acceptable Proof of Vaccination?

According to the NYC news release, acceptable proof of vaccination includes a CDC issued vaccination card, the New York State Excelsior Pass, the Clear Health Pass, and the NYC COVID Safe App. Also, see the NYC guidance vaccine list here.

Other States with Vaccine Mandates

States such as CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, IL, KY, MA, ME, MN, MD, NC, NV, NJ, NM, NY, OR, PA, RI, VT, VA, WA, WI, and D.C. and several municipalities throughout the U.S. have implemented vaccine mandates for certain employees. Such mandates are generally limited to employees working in specific types of settings such as healthcare, nursing homes, schools, childcare facilities, or state or local government entities.

In September and October of 2021, NYC, through its Key to NYC Pass, implemented vaccine mandates for workers and customers ages 12 and up working or using indoor dining, fitness and entertainment venues.

NYC is now the first to impose vaccine mandates applicable to employees of all private businesses regardless of size and industry.

States with Restrictions on Vaccine Mandates

The following states currently allow additional exemptions to vaccine mandates other than those based upon medical or religious reasons. We previously discussed Florida’s new law here and will devote another blog discussing the specific statutes. For now, here is a list of these states with links to the applicable legal authority.

  • Alabama allows exemptions for prior COVID-19 infection. Bill Text: AL SB9 | 2021
  • Florida allows exemptions for prior COVID-19 infection, testing, or use of personal protective equipment. See our prior blog at 29-1 (
  • Iowa allows medical and religious exemptions broader than federal law. Iowa Legislature
  • Kansas allows medical and religious exemptions broader than federal law.
  • North Dakota allows exemptions if there are prior COVID-19 antibodies, periodic COVID-19 tests or sincerely held moral or philosophical beliefs. ENGROSSED House Bill No. 1511
  • Texas per EO, allows exemptions for prior COVID-19 infection. EO-GA-40
  • Utah allows exemptions for a “sincerely held personal belief.”

As always, we will continue to keep you updated as we monitor these developments. And, our previous blogs on vaccination mandates can be found here, here , here, here and here – or just scroll down.

Matrix Can Help!

Matrix offers ADA and medical vaccine exemption services for its ADA clients. For more information about our solutions, please contact your Matrix or Reliance Standard account manager, or reach us at [email protected].