STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A Manhattan judge ruled against the city’s coronavirus (COVID-19) mandate as it applies to members of the city’s large police union, and ordered members of that union who were terminated or put on leave to be reinstated.
State Supreme Court Judge Lyle Frank said the mandate is invalid as a condition of employment for members of the Police Benevolent Association (PBA), which brought the suit against the city.
Union President Pat Lynch has been a vocal critic against the mandate, and is party to the lawsuit brought in February.
“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,” Lynch said. “We will continue to fight to protect those rights.”
In addition to Frank’s ruling against the mandate, he ordered the city to reinstate any PBA members who had been fired or put on leave after not complying with the rule.
Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella commended the PBA for initiating the effort.
“Our hope is that the city does not appeal this decision, and allows the police officers who were terminated to get reinstated as soon as possible, as well as all the other city employees who were wrongfully terminated,” said Fossella.
A spokesman for the Law Department said that the city filed a notice of appeal freezing the judge’s decision and pointed to previous similar cases that the city has won, including a Tuesday win in a suit brought by the Uniformed Firefighters Association.
“We are immediately appealing this ruling. It is at odds with every other court decision upholding the mandate as a condition of employment,” the spokesman said.
The city’s case qualifies the vaccine mandate as a condition of employment similar to the city employee residency requirement, but the judge ruled that the rule lacked statutory authority.
Mayor Eric Adams announced Tuesday that the city would end its vaccine mandates for private sector worker on Nov. 1, but kept them in place for municipal workers. He left the possibility of reconsidering the mandate on the table.