Health

New York judge rules COVID vaccine mandate for NYPD union members invalid

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A New York judge ruled Friday that the city’s mandate requiring members of the New York City Police Department to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is invalid as applied to members of the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York. 

In the decision, State Supreme Court Justice Lyle Frank, sitting in Manhattan, ordered that members of the union that were caused to be “wrongfully terminated and/or put on leave without pay a result of non-compliance” be reinstated.

The filing said that the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s “conduct of unilaterally creating a condition of employment is improper,” 

“In support of its contention that the DOH Commissioner can unilaterally create employment conditions, respondents cite to holdings of recently decided federal cases and trial court decisions. This argument too is unpersuasive. Respondents cite a multitude of cases where this Court, as well as others, have denied petitions based on vaccination being a condition of employment, however in those instances the City and the respective union collectively bargained to include the vaccination mandate as a new condition of employment, that is not the case here,” wrote Frank, adding that the unilateral imposition of a condition of employment is not something the department or Mayor Eric Adams could do without collective bargaining.

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A New York Police Department (NYPD) vehicle arrives at the scene of a shooting in the Crown Heights neighborhood in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Thursday, July 21, 2022. 
(Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The court did not deny that at the time the mandate was issued, it was appropriate and lawful. 

However, it said it does not see and that respondents had not established a legal basis or lawful authority for the DOH to exclude employees from the workplace and impose any other adverse employment action as an appropriate enforcement mechanism of the vaccine mandate. 

Frank said that while respondents contended that the order that created a new condition of employment is “similar to the residency requirement for all non-uniformed civil service employees found in NYC Administrative Code 12-120 or in New York Public Officers Law § 3(1)” and that the mandate is “another example of a lawfully created condition of employment,” the court disagrees.

New York City health commissioner Ashwin Vasan speaks to members of the media during a press conference before the opening of a Monkeypox mass vaccination site at the Bushwick Education Campus in Brooklyn on July 17, 2022, in New York City. 

New York City health commissioner Ashwin Vasan speaks to members of the media during a press conference before the opening of a Monkeypox mass vaccination site at the Bushwick Education Campus in Brooklyn on July 17, 2022, in New York City. 
(Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

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“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,” PBA President Patrick Lynch said, responding to the ruling. “We will continue to fight to protect those rights.”

“We are immediately appealing this ruling. It is at odds with every other court decision upholding the mandate as a condition of employment,” a law department spokesperson told Fox News Digital in a Saturday email.

NEW YORK - NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 19: NYPD officers stand guard near the United Nations headquarters during the start of the United National General Assembly on September 19, 2022, in New York. 

NEW YORK – NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 19: NYPD officers stand guard near the United Nations headquarters during the start of the United National General Assembly on September 19, 2022, in New York. 
(Photo by Eduardo MunozAlvarez/VIEWpress)

The department pointed out that other unions have lost similar cases and that the filing of a notice of appeal freezes the judge’s decision until the appeal is heard.

Adams announced just days ago that he would drop the city’s private-sector vaccine mandate.

More than 1,000 New York City employees have been fired for refusing the vaccines.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.