Friday, September 23, 2022
In the stunning decision, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lyle Frank wrote that the city’s vaccine mandate on the Police Benevolent Association was invalid “to the extent it has been used to impose a new condition of employment” on the union.
The mandate was also invalid because it issued enforcement beyond “monetary sanctions” prescribed in the law, Frank wrote — ordering that all PBA members put on leave or canned be reinstated.
It would be a “gross overstatement” of the city’s Department of Mental Health and Hygiene to say it could enforce the vaccine mandate through termination, unpaid leave or suspension, Frank said.
“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. But the city hadn’t “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.”
Any new condition of employment would have to be included in a collective bargaining agreement between a labor union and the city, the judge wrote. Frank is the same judge who recently ruled to toss the city Department of Education’s budget.
“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.”
The ruling is the second big blow against the Big Apple’s COVID-19 measures in a week, after a Manhattan judge ruled last week an NYPD cop who sued over the mandate couldn’t be fired for refusing to get jabbed.
Brooklyn cop Alexander Deletto, 43, should be allowed to keep his job after the city offered no explanation why it rejected his request for a religious exemption.
The two rulings could also set precedents for other unions in various city departments, to the extent the mandate isn’t codified in their collectively bargained labor deals.
in the wake of the ruling on the PBA, the two FDNY unions said Friday they’d look to get back on the job their members who refused to get jabbed.
“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,” said FDNY Uniformed Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro and FDNY Uniformed Fire Officers Association President Lt. James McCarthy.
“The Uniformed Firefighters Association and Uniformed Fire Officers Association will send a letter to the Fire Commissioner demanding the reinstatement and remuneration of all FDNY members terminated or placed on leave without pay due to the vaccine mandate.”
The city Law Department said it would “immediately” appeal the ruling.
“It is at odds with every other court decision upholding the mandate as a condition of employment,” a Law Department spokesperson told The Post.
An appeal could immediately freeze the judge’s ruling. It wasn’t immediately clear how many officers fired or on leave would be affected if the judge’s ruling were to hold; an NYPD spokesperson referred comment on specifics to the city Law Department.
The mandate, enacted in October 2021 under former Mayor Bill de Blasio, was controversial out of the gate. Mayor Eric Adams ruffled union members in the spring when he rolled back the mandate so that unvaccinated athletes and performers like the Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving could play in New York.
That led to the PBA to amend its complaint, saying the carve out undermined the basis for the mandate.