Court Rules Vaccine Mandate for NYPD Officers Invalid
On Friday, September 23rd, the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York’s (PBA) lawsuit against the COVID-19 vaccine mandate was successful when Manhattan Supreme Court judge Lyle Frank found that the vaccine mandate was invalid.
The judge declared that all members of the PBA who had either lost their jobs or had been placed on leave had to be reinstated.
One of the reasons the mandate was deemed invalid was that it had imposed “a new condition of employment.” It was also found invalid because it “issued enforcement beyond monetary sanctions” as envisioned by the law. The court went on to say it would be a gross overstatement for the Department of Health and Hygiene (DOH) to terminate or suspend employment as a way to enforce the vaccine mandate.
“To be unequivocally clear, this Court does not deny that at the time it was issued, the vaccine mandate was appropriate and lawful,” the ruling stated. The ruling added that 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.” The judge added that such a condition would have to be included in a collective bargaining agreement between the city and a labor union.
“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 Pat Lynch said in a statement. “We will continue to fight to protect those rights.”
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The city’s legal department launched an appeal against the ruling on Friday, September 23rd. “It is at odds with every other court decision upholding the mandate as a condition of employment,” a Law Department spokesperson said. An appeal could freeze the court’s decision until the matter is heard and ruled upon in a different court.
The vaccine mandate was enacted in October 2021 under former mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration. Mayor Eric Adams slightly adjusted the mandate, allowing athletes that were unvaccinated to participate in their sport. This caused a lot of controversy among union members. According to the PBA, it is the largest municipal police union in the world. It represents over 50,000 active and retired police officers.
“The NYC PBA is a labor union that seeks to protect and advance its members’ rights and interests. Among other things, it negotiates their contract, which establishes compensation, benefits, and working conditions, ensures fair treatment by the City and the NYPD, provides legal services and representation, and administers their health and welfare benefits. The PBA also encourages legislation that helps its members and improves their families’ lives, while it opposes legislation detrimental to them,” it says on the PBA website.