NYC Judge Rules NYPD Officer Cannot be Fired for Not Taking the COVID-19 Vaccine
According to a new “precedent-setting” ruling that could help nearly two dozen police officers who have filed similar cases, an NYPD cop who sued the city over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate cannot be fired for not having the vaccination.
A Manhattan judge ruled on Tuesday, September 13th, that Officer Alexander Deletto, 43, should be permitted to keep his job, noting that the Brooklyn officer received no justification from the city for rejecting his request for a religious exemption.
According to attorney James Mermigis, who is representing Deletto and is known as “the anti-shutdown” lawyer for taking on a slew of pandemic-related litigation, “This is the first such ruling in an NYPD officer’s case fighting their possible firing over the mandate.” Deletto, a Catholic, first requested a religious exemption from the city on February 15th. The city later rejected his appeal citing the only reason as, “does not meet criteria” given, according to his lawsuit.
“The hollow and generic phrase ‘does not meet criteria’ cannot be rational,” Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arlene Bluth wrote in her decision, “because not a single item specific to [Deletto] was discussed and not a single reason for the decision was given.”
The judge penned, “It is the duty of the agency to explain why it made the decision,” adding, “There is no indication that anybody even read [Deletto’s] arguments.”
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Deletto, a nine-year veteran of the force who works out of Clinton Hill’s 88th Precinct, filed a lawsuit the day before he was scheduled to be fired on August 5 for failing to get vaccinated.
Mermigis has filed over 20 cases on behalf of police officers who have been terminated for failing to get vaccinated.
Regarding the officers he represents, Mermigis stated, “My goal is to keep them employed. The last thing we need is to fire more cops when there is an acceleration of crime.”
The lawyer expressed hope that the ruling would be helpful in his other cases since those officers’ requests for religious exemptions were also denied.
More than 1,750 city employees have been fired as of July 2022 for failing to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, including at least 36 members of the NYPD.
The Police Benevolent Association, the largest union in the NYPD, filed a lawsuit challenging the vaccine requirement, claiming that Mayor Eric Adams’ decision to exempt athletes and performers from the requirement undermined claims of protecting the public’s health.