NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City is appealing a judge's ruling to reinstate municipal employees fired for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
The city is appealing the latest ruling by a Staten Island judge finding a segment of the municipal work force should not require vaccination.
Staten Island Supreme Court Justice Ralph Porzio ruled Monday that the vaccination requirement for a group of 16 sanitation workers suing the city is arbitrary and capricious.
"Being vaccinated does not prevent an individual from contracting or transmitting Covid-19," the ruling notes.
The judge ruled the "petitioners should not have been terminated" and that "If it was about public safety and health, no one would be exempt."
The ruling would reinstate fired unvaccinated employees and order backpay.
Just how much in backpay is still bein calculated, but the group of sanitation workers who were fired for not complying with the city vaccine mandate can now exhale.
"After he announced his decision, there were claps cries, tears," said the attorney for the sanitation workers, Chad Laveglia.
The court sided with the sanitation workers in part after performers and athletes were allowed vaccine exemptions.
"In March, when Mayor Adams made that exclusion he invalidated the entire vaccine mandate. So that was the main premise of our case," Laveglia said.
And as it has in the past, the city is appealing. Until that court rules, the vaccine mandate remains in effect.
A spokesman with the law department released the following statement:
"The city strongly disagrees with this ruling as the mandate is firmly grounded in law and is critical to New Yorkers' public health. We have already filed an appeal. In the meantime, the mandate remains in place as this ruling pertains solely to the individual petitioners in this case. We continue to review the court's decision, which conflicts with numerous other rulings already upholding the mandate."
President Joe Biden was asked about the ruling while getting his COVID shot and called it a "local judgment." His own vaccine mandates focused on the federal workforce and employees at large companies.
Meanwhile, the NYC Board of Health voted unanimously Tuesday morning to repeal the vaccine mandate for private employees, as initially announced by Mayor Eric Adams on Sept. 20.
The rules will expire on Tuesday, Nov. 1, as per the mayor's announcement at that time.
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