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September 27, 2022, 12:46 PM

NYC to appeal judge’s vaccination enforcement ruling, until then NYPD will comply with order

By Rocco Parascandola and Thomas Tracy

New York City will enforce a judge’s order barring enforcement of the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for members of the largest police union while the decision is appealed.

In a letter shared with the Daily News, the city Law Department confirmed that the “New York City Police Department has been notified that no member of the Police Benevolent Association may be placed on leave without pay or terminated due to their noncompliance with the vaccine mandate.”

Manhattan State Supreme Court Judge Lyle Frank ruled Friday that the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s vaccination mandate couldn’t be used to fire or put PBA members on leave.

In his ruling, Frank wrote that the vaccine mandate is “invalid to the extent it has been used to impose a new condition of employment to current PBA members.”

Frank also ordered the reinstatement of any PBA member who was “wrongfully terminated” or put on unpaid leave for refusing to get vaccinated.

The city vowed an immediate appeal to Frank’s order. In the same letter, Assistant Corporation Counsel Lora Minicucci indicates that the city “dispute[s] the contentions” in the decision and “reserve all their rights and defenses in connection therewith.”

“While we are glad that the city has decided to comply with the order in this respect, we will continue to press for the city’s full compliance, including the reinstatement of any members who were terminated,” PBA President Patrick Lynch said in a letter to his members Tuesday.

A spokesman for the city Law Department said a challenge to the decision will be filed, and the pause on firings will be over once the paperwork is submitted.

“We are appealing the entire court ruling. The city’s appeal puts the portion of the decision calling for the reinstatement of unvaccinated officers on hold until the appeal is decided. For technical legal reasons, the part of the ruling which prevents the NYPD from terminating or placing unvaccinated officers on leave without pay is in effect until the court decides the appeal,” said spokesman Nicholas Paolucci.

Frank’s decision started a domino effect with other first responder unions, including the Uniformed Firefighters Association and the Uniformed Fire Officers Association using the decision as ammunition in their quest to get their unvaccinated members reinstated.

Other public employee groups have lost court bids to stop enforcement of the vaccine mandate.

In March, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected efforts by a group of teachers to seek religious exemptions to the mandate. The Supreme Court last December denied a similar challenge by health care workers.