New York City officials filed an appeal against a New York state Supreme Court judge’s ruling on Friday that they lacked the authority to fire municipal police union members over noncompliance with COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Judge Lyle E. Frank acknowledged that the vaccine mandate was lawful at the time it was issued, but said the Department of Health did not have the right to create an exclusion or impositions as a condition of employment, and that doing so would require negotiations between the union and the municipal agency, also known as collective bargaining.

“To say that this court should read into the statute that enforcement of a vaccine mandate is enforceable by exclusion from the workplace, suspension, leave without pay, and ultimate termination would be a gross overstatement of the DOH commissioner’s powers,” Frank wrote in his ruling.

When the Police Benevolent Association, the city’s largest police union, sued the city in October 2021, it sought an order from the court that would stop the further enforcement of the vaccine mandate and a declaration that the DOH was overreaching its powers. The PBA also sought the reinstatement of members who were fired, plus back pay and damages.

The judge ruled in the PBA’s favor, including the reinstatement of all officers who were terminated for not following the COVID-19 vaccine requirements. Frank said that the city overstepped its enforcement powers by firing or putting unvaccinated officers on leave. He said the limits did not extend past monetary sanctions.

“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. We will continue to fight to protect those rights,” said PBA President Patrick J. Lynch in a statement following Frank's decision on Friday.

The New York City Law Department immediately filed an appeal against the ruling.

The decision came amid Mayor Eric Adams’ announcement earlier this week that the city would drop its vaccine mandates for private companies on Nov. 1.