A Manhattan judge Friday struck down New York City's vaccination mandate for NYPD officers and ordered the city to reinstate officers who were fired or suspended for refusing the coronavirus vaccine in a decision that will be immediately appealed.
The decision from Supreme Court Justice Lyle E. Frank said the city cannot unilaterally impose a new employment condition, such as a vaccine mandate, without negotiating with the labor union representing police officers.
The ruling represented a major victory for the NYPD's largest labor union. The New York City Police Benevolent Association, with some 24,000 members, filed suit against the city in 2021 after then-Mayor Bill de Blasio mandated officers get vaccinated against COVID-19.
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, according to news reports. Another 70 FDNY firefighters are facing termination.
"To be unequivocally clear, this Court does not deny that at the time it was issued the vaccine mandate was appropriate and lawful, the Court however does not see, nor have respondents established a legal basis or lawful authority for the DOH [city's Department of Health] to exclude employees from the workplace and impose any other adverse employment action as an appropriate enforcement mechanism of the vaccine mandate," the judge wrote.
PBA President Patrick Lynch, in a statement Friday, applauded the ruling.
“This decision confirms what we have said from the start: the vaccine mandate was an improper infringement on our members' right to make personal medical decisions in consultation with their own health care professionals. We will continue to fight to protect those rights."
The city has filed a notice of appeal, which a city official said pauses the implementation of the judge's ruling though the police union disputed that notion.
A spokesperson for the city's Law Department said: “We are immediately appealing this ruling. It is at odds with every other court decision upholding the mandate as a condition of employment.”
NYC Mayor Eric Adams earlier this week announced the city would scrap its vaccine mandate for the private sector but it would remain in place for municipal employees.
Earlier this year, the mayor signed an executive order exempting professional athletes and performers from the vaccination mandate, which elicited frustration from municipal labor leaders.
FDNY-Uniformed Firefighters Association president Andrew Ansbro and FDNY-Uniformed Fire Officers Association president Lt. James McCarthy in a statement in response to Friday's ruling called for the immediate rehiring of city firefighters suspended or terminated due to the mandate.
“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," the joint statement said. "The Uniformed Firefighters Association and Uniformed Fire Officers Association will send a letter to the Fire Commissioner demanding the reinstatement and remuneration of all FDNY members terminated or placed on leave without pay due to the vaccine mandate.”