NYPD cops who failed to comply with the city's COVID-19 vaccine mandate can stay on the job during an appeal of last week's court ruling that ordered fired officers reinstated and tossed out the pandemic protocol, officials said Tuesday.
Police Benevolent Association lawyers were notified of the policy change in a letter from the New York City law department. The letter stated the NYPD was told that the policy of putting cops who didn’t comply with the public employee vaccine mandate on unpaid leave, and then firing them if they didn’t get a COVID-19 shot by a deadline, was suspended.
What the PBA called “reversing course” by the city came after the decision Friday by a Manhattan State Supreme Court judge that struck down the vaccination mandate for NYPD officers. Supreme Court Justice Lyle E. Frank's ruling also ordered the city to reinstate officers who were fired or suspended for refusing the coronavirus vaccine.
Frank's decision also said the city cannot unilaterally impose a new employment condition, such as a vaccine mandate, without negotiating with the labor union representing police officers.
City attorneys said they would immediately appeal Frank’s ruling and that it meant suspension of the portion of the order reinstating cops fired for being unvaccinated, until the appeal process is complete. The city also said unvaccinated cops won’t be placed on leave or fired while the case goes through the appellate court. A spokesman for the Law Department said the suspension of the firing and unpaid leave penalties applies to all uniformed members and not just patrol officers represented by the PBA.
“While we are glad that the City has decided to comply with the order in this respect [on leave and firing], we will continue to press for the City’s full compliance, including the reinstatement of any members who were terminated or placed on [leave without pay] due to the mandate,” PBA president Patrick Lynch said in a statement to union members.
The city has fired more than 1,400 city employees, including 36 police officers and about two dozen firefighters, as of earlier this year, for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19, according to news reports. Another 70 FDNY firefighters are facing termination.
An unrelated NYPD vaccine case is working its way through the U.S. Supreme Court. The lawsuit challenging the mandate was brought by NYPD Det. Anthony Marciano and is on a fast track, with a conference among the justices scheduled in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 7, according to court records.