Chicago, IL – A Cook County judge brought enforcement of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s vaccine mandate deadline to a screeching halt Monday morning.
Cook County Judge Raymond Mitchell granted a partial temporary restraining order at the behest of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the Chicago Tribune reported.
Mitchell determined the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate shall remain in place for the time being, but noted the city cannot enforce the Dec. 31 deadline until the matter has gone to arbitration with the police unions, according to the paper.
The FOP sued the city after Lightfoot issued a directive requiring all city employees to submit their vaccination status into a citywide database by midnight on Oct. 14 or face unpaid suspension, the Associated Press reported.
In order to avoid being placed on unpaid leave, officers were required to either provide proof of vaccination or consent to being tested for the virus twice weekly, WFLD reported.
The twice-weekly testing option is available to workers only until the end of the year, when vaccination will be the only option without an approved religious or medical exemption, according to FOX News.
Thousands of first responders refused to comply with the mandate, the Chicago Tribune reported.
A total of 30 Chicago police officers remained on unpaid leave as of Friday, according to WBEZ.
Mitchell ruled the city can continue placing officers on unpaid leave, but said the Dec. 31 deadline cannot be enforced without arbitration, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“Obey now, grieve later’ is not possible” Mitchell noted in his ruling, referring to the deadline. “If every union member complied…they would have no grievance to pursue and there would no remedy an arbitrator could award. An award of back pay or reinstatement cannot undo a vaccine. Nothing can.”
The judge’s decision does not apply to city workers who are not members of any of the four police unions, WBEZ reported.
“Sworn members who retire while under disciplinary investigations may be denied retirement credentials,” Superintendent Brown warned in a police memo issued Oct. 17, according to the Chicago Tribune.