As first reported in NorthJersey.com, by the date of September 17th, 2021, members of PBA Local #136, the certified Collective Negotiations Unit that represents Rank and File Law Enforcement Officers employed by Wayne Township in Passaic County, New Jersey will be forced by a mandate issued by Township’s Leadership to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, or face the consequences associated with their disobedience.
In an effort to try to thwart this mandate, Local #136 filed a lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction to halt the implementation of the policy in the Passaic County Superior Court on behalf of all of its members. Within the body of the complaint there is a side note indicating that three of its members remain unvaccinated by personal choice.
In its effort to obtain the injunction The PBA claimed that the vaccine mandate violated the civil rights of the police officers, placed the officers at risk of losing out on life insurance benefits if they were to die due to complications related to the vaccine and that the mandate could not be implemented as it was not collectively bargained for with the Union. However, Superior Court Judge, Ernest M. Caposela, dismissed each of these arguments outright and denied the union’s request for an injunction stating that the policy is “justified in that it is a proper exercise of the [Township’s] police powers to protect the general public welfare.” In addition to the foregoing, the Court held that religious exemptions were still being honored, and therefore the mandate was not contrary to the United States Constitution.
This was the first legal challenge to a vaccine mandate that we are aware of in New Jersey that addresses the legalities of a policy with public employees. Unfortunately, the documents filed with the Court in this matter have provided us with little insight concerning why the Judge ruled as he did, however this does establish a dangerous precedent moving forward on this very important issue. We will keep our readers posted on this issue as more information becomes available.