The New York Public Employment Relations Board has determined that court workers who were fired for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine must be rehired and given back pay with interest.
The Unified Court System must “stop and desist” from executing procedures that require non-judicial staff to be vaccinated or tested.
According to The Post’s Feb. 24 judgment, everyone “who lost accrued vacation, salary or employment” must be reimbursed “full” with interest at the maximum legal rate.
Dennis Quirk, president of the New York State Court Officers Association, one of 10 unions that challenged the mandate, said the ruling impacts at least 25 fired court employees.
Sunday, Quirk said 200 court employees were dismissed, resigned, or retired.
Quirk, who supports immunization, termed the PERB ruling a “landmark.”
“You can’t take away someone’s choice. “America, not Russia,” he said.
UCS spokesman Lucian Chalfen said court officials are “reviewing the ruling” and considering appealing.
The judgment may influence other state and Big Apple government employees who declined vaccination, some of whom are suing New York City.
The verdict was “based on a different set of facts and rules” than those regulating Big Apple workers, according to a representative for Mayor Eric Adams.
The spokeswoman continued, “Rulings on the city’s mandate clearly conclude this type of relief is neither necessary or warranted.”
Adams rescinded the city’s vaccine mandate for municipal employees earlier this month, but he indicated that the nearly 1,800 people dismissed for violating it would have to reapply and would not receive back pay.
In December, unvaccinated Hornell part-time judge Jennifer Donlon filed suit because she can enter court as a lawyer but not as a judge.
Administrative Law Judge Mariam Manichaikul found court authorities “had an obligation to discuss” with labor unions a September 2021 decision requiring non-judicial personnel to be vaccinated or tested in the 31-page PERB ruling.
“In adopting the Policies, UCS unilaterally established substantial procedures that affect different terms and conditions of employment, including leave time, salary, discipline, job security, and medical privacy, all of which must be bargained,” she wrote.
Manichaikul decided that “UCS has not met the criteria under which an employer is authorized to take unilateral action in an emergency situation” since it didn’t bargain with the unions beforehand and “showed no genuine desire to negotiate thereafter.”
“UCS’ decision to abruptly halt bargaining over the Policy when no agreements had been reached nor stalemate announced, constitutes a violation” of the Public Employees Fair Employment Act, she said.
According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data posted online on Friday, COVID-19 “community levels” were low in New York City and the surrounding metro area.
The CDC reported moderate or high levels in 82% of counties and low levels in 82%.
Former state Court of Appeals Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, who resigned in July amid an ethics probe over her public spat with Quirk, enforced the vaccine mandate.
The state Commission on Judicial Conduct was examining whether DiFiore interfered with Quirk’s disciplinary hearing for posting her home addresses on Facebook to provoke protests.
DiFiore wrote to the hearing officer that Quirk “exhibits no remorse” and suggested using “all means” to “handle this occurrence and avoid future wrongdoing,” according to Law360, which reported the probe.
The Post reported in December that DiFiore was still chauffeured and protected by court officers in two state-owned Vehicles.
Chalfen stated the extraordinary arrangement was “determined by law enforcement personnel in our Department of Public Safety” and underlined the “doxing” that revealed her addresses.
Last month, the state Senate rejected Gov. Kathy Hochul’s candidate to replace DiFiore, appellate division Justice Hector LaSalle, 39-20.