In a major victory for members of the NYPD’s largest police union, a judge ruled Friday that police officers were fired for not being vaccinated against the coronavirus must be reinstated.
In the stunning ruling, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lyle Frank wrote that the city’s vaccine mandate on the Police Benevolent Association was invalid “to the extent it has been used to impose a new term of employment on the union.”
The mandate was also void because it issued enforcement in addition to “monetary penalties” prescribed by law, Frank wrote — and ordered that all PBA members on leave or furlough be reinstated.
It would be a “gross overstatement” for the city’s Department of Mental Health and Hygiene to say it could enforce the vaccine mandate through termination, unpaid leave or suspension, Frank said.
“To be unequivocally clear, this court does not deny that the vaccine mandate at the time it was issued was appropriate and lawful,” the ruling said. But the city had not “established a legal basis or lawful authority for DOH to exclude employees from the workplace and impose other adverse employment measures as an appropriate enforcement mechanism of the vaccine mandate.”
Any new terms of employment would have to be included in a collective agreement between a union and the city, the judge wrote. Frank is the same judge who recently decided to throw out the city’s Department of Education budget.
“This decision reaffirms what we have said from the beginning: The vaccine mandate was an unjustified violation of our members’ right to make personal medical decisions in consultation with their own health care professionals,” PBA President Pat Lynch said in a statement.
“We will continue to fight to protect these rights.”
The ruling is the second major blow to the Big Apple’s COVID-19 measures in a week, after a Manhattan judge ruled last week that an NYPD officer suing over the mandate could not be fired for refusing to be stabbed.
Brooklyn police officer Alexander Deletto, 43, should be allowed to keep his job after the city offered no explanation as to why it denied his request for a religious exemption.
The two rulings may also set a precedent for other unions in various city departments to the extent that the mandate is not codified in their collectively bargained labor agreements.
in the wake of the PBA ruling, the two FDNY unions said Friday they would look to put back on the job their members who refused to be stung.
“It was only a matter of time before a common sense judge concluded that the COVID-19 vaccination mandate was never a condition of employment,” said FDNY Uniformed Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro and FDNY Uniformed Fire Officers Association President Lt. James McCarthy.
“The Uniformed Firefighters Association and the Uniformed Fire Officers Association will send a letter to the fire commissioner demanding the reinstatement and pay of all FDNY members terminated or placed on leave without pay due to the vaccine mandate.”
The city’s law department said it would “immediately” appeal the ruling.
“It is contrary to any other court decision upholding the mandate as a condition of employment,” a law department spokesman told The Post.
An appeal can immediately freeze the judge’s ruling. It was not immediately clear how many officers who were fired or on leave would be affected if the judge’s ruling were to stand; an NYPD spokesman referred comment on the details to the city’s law department.
The mandate, passed in October 2021 under former Mayor Bill de Blasio, was controversial out of the gate. Mayor Eric Adams rattled union members this spring when he rolled back the mandate to allow unvaccinated athletes and performers like the Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving to play in New York.
That led the PBA to amend its complaint, saying the carve-out undermined the basis of the mandate.