Judge strikes down COVID vaccine mandate for PBA, orders New York City to reinstate unvaccinated police officers

NEW YORK — A Manhattan Supreme Court judge on Friday overturned the city’s vaccine mandate for the New York Police Benevolent Association and said members who lost their jobs for being unvaccinated should be reinstated.

The city filed an immediate notice of appeal after the bombshell ruling, meaning the judge’s ruling is frozen and cannot be enforced until the appeal is heard, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported. 

“It is at odds with every other court decision upholding the mandate as a condition of employment,” said a spokesperson for the New York City Law Department. 

Still, it was a victory for New York City cops who, for various reasons, didn’t want to get the COVID vaccine.

Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Lyle Frank ordered the city to reinstate PBA members who were fired or put on leave without pay because they refused to get vaccinated. 

“That the vaccine mandate is invalid to the extent it has been used to impose a new condition of employment to current PBA members,” Judge Frank wrote in part.

The ruling came just days after the city lifted the vaccine mandate for private sector employees.

PBA President Patrick Lynch celebrated the decision, saying it “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.”

But attorney Andrew Lieb, who has represented municipal workers in discrimination cases, says the decision is very limited.

“It’s not about whether vaccines are legal. Vaccines are legal in employment. The question is, what is the penalty in the city when the penalty is made by the Department of Health?” Lieb told CBS2’s Thalia Perez.

Watch Marcia Kramer’s report


Judge overturns NYC’s COVID vaccine mandate for police officers

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City officials pointed out other unions lost similar cases. Thursday, a court dismissed a case brought by the firefighters union. 

A City Hall spokesperson told CBS2 more than 1,750 city workers, including cops, teachers and firefighters, lost their jobs since the mandate took effect.

James Arisana is a retired firefighter and is hoping for the best.

“So many of these people, this is not what they wanted to do. They didn’t want to retire. They didn’t want to lose their job,” he said. “All these jobs are great jobs.”

Shortly after the ruling, the unions representing firefighters and fire officers demanded that their members be reinstated as well and with back pay, but Lieb says he doesn’t believe that will happen.

“This decision is very, very limited. It’s not gonna affect other civil servants because most of the other civil servants don’t have the same reason that this specific thing happened,” he said.

It was not immediately clear how soon the appeal will be heard, but Lieb says he expects it will happen sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, the PBA said it will continue to fight for the rights of its members. 

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