The fingerprints of unvaccinated school teachers in New York City who lost their jobs due to their vaccine status have allegedly been sent to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) flagged with a “problem code.” These “problem code” flags in the FBI files on the fired teachers could impact their ability to obtain future employment.1
According to the attorney representing the teachers who were fired for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine:
When the city puts these problem codes on employees who have been terminated because of their unconstitutional policies, not only do they have this flag in their files, but their fingerprints are sent with that flag to the FBI and the New York Criminal Justice Services, so it impacts their ongoing ability to get employment at other places.2
New York City’s vaccine mandate forced approximately 148,000 public school staff to receive COVID shots by Oct. 4, 2021 or be placed on administrative leave. While the vaccine mandate provided for religious and medical exemptions, it did not allow for the option to test for past or current infection instead of receiving the shots.3 In practice, however, all vaccine exemption requests were denied and only 10 percent were granted after an appeal.4
“Why Is My Fingerprint Being Sent to the FBI?”
A veteran teacher of 15 years who was fired for not getting the controversial vaccine asked:
This is both outrageous and infuriating because my first question to the government or whatever, is basically, what did I do? What kind of criminal activity did I participate besides denying something that I felt that was right for me? Religiously, mentally, I just didn’t want anything experimental on my body, so what criminal activity does that persist? I don’t understand. Like with why am I being flagged? Why is my fingerprint being sent to the FBI?5
The media was alerted to what happened to the fired teachers when investigative journalist Betsy Combier wrote an affidavit in which she noted that the fingerprints of unvaccinated teachers were marked with a “problem code” and sent to the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Combier explained that when a teacher did not comply with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, the Department of Education (DOE) put a problem code in their personnel file… 6
When the DOE puts a problem code in the employee’s personnel file, it also places a flag on the employee’s fingerprints, which is then sent to the national databases at both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State Division of Criminal Justice Services.7
Combier further pointed out that once a teacher provided proof of vaccination, the problem code was taken off their personnel file. New York City’s Mayor Eric Adams has denied that unvaccinated teachers had their personnel files marked with problem codes.
According to Mary Holland, JD, lead counsel for the Children’s Health Defense the “problem codes” could have a significant negative impact on the teachers’ ability to get another job as it is the same code used for someone accused of molesting, raping or injuring a child.8
Mayor Adams lifted the COVID vaccine mandate for public employees in early February 2023, but the 1,780 fired city workers did not automatically get their jobs back. City workers fired due to their COVID vaccine status are forced to reapply for their jobs and will not receive backpay if rehired.9
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1 Hill B. Fingerprints of unvaccinated NYC teachers reportedly sent to FBI with ‘problem codes’: ‘Invasion of privacy’. Fox News Feb. 14, 2023.
3 New York City teachers must be vaccinated by today or face unpaid leave. NPR Oct. 4, 2021.
4 Children’s Health Defense. CHD Calls for Congressional Investigation After New York City Places ‘Problem Codes’ in Files of Unvaccinated Teachers. The Defender Mar. 1, 2023.
5 Hill B. Fingerprints of unvaccinated NYC teachers reportedly sent to FBI with ‘problem codes’: ‘Invasion of privacy’. Fox News Feb. 14, 2023.
7 Campanile C. NYC teachers who refused COVID vaccine slapped with ‘scarlet letter’ in personnel files: lawyer. New York Post Feb. 14, 2023.
8 Children’s Health Defense. CHD Calls for Congressional Investigation After New York City Places ‘Problem Codes’ in Files of Unvaccinated Teachers. The Defender Mar. 1, 2023.