Bronx man furloughed from job for refusing COVID vax: suit

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A Bronx man claims he was placed on an upaid leave from a catering company gig for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine, new court papers show.

Antonio Coronado, 35, was furloughed from Great Performances on May 28 — a move he says is akin to “wrongful termination,” according to his Queens Supreme Court lawsuit filed Friday.

“You’re supposed to be given a choice,” Coronado, who’s worked for the company since February 2020, told The Post. “It’s not fair. I was a great employee. Just terminating me like that out of nowhere just because I dont want to get the vaccine, it’s really not fair.”

“It’s only been out for a few months and I don’t feel safe taking one,” Coronado said.

On top of that, Coronado — who is Christian — said getting the vaccine also goes against his religious beliefs.

His employers are “forcing him to disregard his religious and ethical convictions and safety concerns as well as the letter of the law solely based on the extralegal maxim and schoolyard dictate that everyone else is doing it. This is neither lawful nor just,” the court documents charge.

Antonio Coronado claims he was furloughed shortly after telling his employer he would not be getting the vaccine.
Antonio Coronado claims he was furloughed shortly after telling his employer he would not be getting the vaccine.
Antonio Coronado/Handout

The Elmhurst, Queens resident was told the indefinite unpaid leave would continue until he complied with the “retroactive mandate,” the court papers allege.

The suit claims that forcing employees to get vaccinated violates state and city laws and is discriminatory against Coronado because of his religious beliefs.

Coronado said the company had been testing employees twice a week for the virus, then, about three months ago, “All of a sudden we all got an email saying … we need to have the vaccine to work there.”

He said he responded a few months later saying he wasn’t comfortable getting the jab — and was then furloughed.

Coronado’s lawyer David Schwartz told The Post that as an alternative, his client should be allowed to continue getting tested regularly and having his temperature taken.

“Anthony Coronado has a religious right to refuse to inject himself with an experimental vaccine and his employer violated his rights, wrongfully terminated him and retaliated against Anthony and we are seeking damages and standing up for justice in his right to refuse to take the experimental vaccine,” Schwartz said.

Great Performances spokesperson Carina Hayek said in a statement that, “Mr. Coronado did not inform us or request any accommodation based upon a disability or sincerely held religious belief.”

A sign for the COVID-19 vaccine at a Rite Aid in Manhattan.
A sign for the COVID-19 vaccine at a Rite Aid in Manhattan.
Noam Galai/Getty Images

Hayek added the company “is requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for employees as stated in our policy, but we will engage in a cooperative dialogue with all employees who request a reasonable accommodation based upon a disability or sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Hayek also said that US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission allows employers to require the vaccine — a stance that has also been adopted in city Human Rights laws, she said.

But according to the EEOC guidance issued late last month, employers must provide “reasonable accommodations” for workers who refuse the shots due to a disability or pregnancy or for religious reasons.

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