The condo board for a New York City apartment building has threatened to fire two employees unless they get vaccinated against COVID-19 — an ultimatum delivered only to the building’s workers, not its residents, the New York Post reported Saturday.
According to the newspaper’s account, a porter and a doorman for the high-end Christodora House community in Manhattan’s East Village were told they would lose their jobs if they don’t receive at least one dose by June 15.
The case highlights the tension that residential businesses across the country are running up against as they attempt to keep residents and staff safe during a pandemic while confronting the personal health decisions of their front-facing employees.
“The Board respects your decision,” reads a letter from the condo board, which was obtained by The Post. “However, we hope you will understand that your choice is not compatible with the Board’s responsibility to provide the safest possible environment for all Christodora House staff members and residents.”
The move has divided the residents of the 83-unit building, where apartments often sell for $1 million or more, the Post reports.
The building’s porter, a 33-year-old who had so far declined to get the shot as of the time of the report, told the newspaper he was concerned about how the vaccine might interact with pre-existing health conditions.
“I never told them that I don’t want to get it — I just said ‘not now,’ ” said the employee Brandon, who declined to provide his full name to The Post.
The vaccines are proven to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For those who do get the virus, vaccines offer protection against a more serious case. Complications associated with the vaccine are rare, the agency said.
Leni Cummins, an attorney for various residential properties, recently told real estate website Curbed that she has helped several condo boards draft vaccination policies for their staff.
But this can produce thorny issues for condo boards that want to require front-desk personnel to be vaccinated, but are reluctant to ask the same of residents, contract workers and private vendors.
“Everyone wants their cleaning person, everyone wants their nanny, everyone wants their dog-walker, everyone wants their particular contractor,” Cummins told Curbed.
Before delivering the ultimatum, the Christodora House offered both employees $1,000 to get the vaccine, The Post said. Other properties — and even Airbnb hosts — are offering discounts, bonuses or prizes to people in their communities for getting the vaccine.