The city must reinstate Police Benevolent Association members who were fired or put on leave for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, a state supreme court judge has ruled.
In a ruling handed down Friday, Judge Lyle Frank deemed the city’s vaccine mandate for municipal workers “invalid” for members of the five boroughs' largest police union.
The city did not collectively bargain with the PBA — which represents around 24,000 NYPD members — when it imposed its mandate on the union, Frank wrote in the decision.
What You Need To Know
- The city must reinstate Police Benevolent Association members who were fired or put on leave for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, a state supreme court judge has ruled
- The city did not collectively bargain with the PBA — which represents around 24,000 NYPD members — when it imposed its mandate on the union, the judge wrote in his decision
- A spokesman for the city’s Law Department on Friday said the Adams administration would appeal the decision “immediately"
Members who were suspended or lost their jobs must be “reinstated to the status they were as of the date of the wrongful action,” he ruled.
“As it is clear by the conduct of the city in its dealings with other municipal unions, namely the United Federation of Teachers, Local 237, Teamsters, among others, it is obvious to this court that the unilateral imposition of a condition of employment is not something that either the [city’s Department of Health] or the mayor can do without collective bargaining,” the judge wrote.
“[The city cites] 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 collectively bargained to include the vaccination mandate as a new condition of employment,” he went on to say, adding that that was “not the case here.”
Any penalties the city imposed on PBA members besides monetary ones were illegal, Frank added.
In a statement released Friday afternoon, PBA President Patrick Lynch said the ruling “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,” Lynch said.
A spokesman for the city’s Law Department on Friday said the Adams administration would appeal the decision “immediately.”
“It is at odds with every other court decision upholding the mandate as a condition of employment,” the spokesman said.
The decision to appeal automatically freezes the judge's decision until the appeal is heard.
It is unclear how many members of the PBA would be impacted by this decision. A total of 1,430 city workers were fired for not complying with the mandate in February.
A separate lawsuit brought by NYPD Detective Anthony Marciano challenging the mandate was referred to the Supreme Court by Justice Clarence Thomas earlier this month, and distributed for conference for Oct. 7.
The heads of two FDNY unions, Uniformed Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro and Uniformed Fire Officers Association President James McCarthy, lauded the judge’s PBA ruling in a statement released Friday evening.
The unions will ask Acting Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh to reinstate and reimburse FDNY members who were fired or placed on unpaid leave for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, they said.
“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,” they added.