New York, NY – A New York judge ruled on Friday that the New York City mandate that required New York Police Department (NYPD) officers to be vaccinated did not apply to members of the city’s largest police union.
In February, 1,400 New York City workers were fired for refusing to comply with the city’s vaccine mandate.
Among them were 25 fire department employees, 36 New York Police Department (NYPD) employees, 40 Department of Sanitation workers, 101 New York City Housing Authority personnel, and 914 Department of Education workers, according to Bloomberg.
New York State Supreme Court Justice Lyle Frank, ruling from a Manhattan courthouse on Sept. 23, said that the vaccine mandate never should have been applied to members of the NYPD Police Benevolent Association (PBA), FOX News reported.
Frank ordered that all members of the police union who were “wrongfully terminated and/or put on leave without pay a result of non-compliance” should be immediately reinstated.
The judge’s decision said that the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DOH) “conduct of unilaterally creating a condition of employment is improper,” FOX News reported.
Frank’s ruling struck down the mandate because it imposed “a new condition of employment” on the police union’s members, WNBC reported.
“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,” the judge wrote. “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.”
Frank added that neither NYPD nor New York City Mayor Eric Adams had the authority to unilaterally impose a condition of employment on PBA members, FOX News reported.
The judge did not deny that the mandate was lawful when it was issued but said the city 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, according to the ruling.
However, the court disagreed with the officers who filed the lawsuit against the city and alleged the addition of the vaccine mandate was “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),” FOX News reported.
The lawsuit claimed the mandate was “another example of a lawfully created condition of employment” but the judge disagreed.
The police union celebrated the judge’s decision, FOX News reported.
“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 told reporters after the ruling.
“We will continue to fight to protect those rights,” Lynch added.
The ruling comes just days after the mayor announced he would discontinue the city’s vaccine mandate for the private sector, FOX News reported.
Adams said his decision to lift the mandates was to give schools, parents, and businesses more flexibility but said the city wouldn’t pull back on its campaign pushing vaccinations and booster shots for everyone.
The judge’s ruling on the NYPD case also fell two weeks after New York Governor Kathy Hochul ended the statewide mass transit mask mandate, WNBC reported.
The governor’s decision lifted restrictions on the city’s buses and subway system, as well as the Metro-North train and Long Island Rail Road.