TO SEARCH THIS DATABASE type in a word or phrase in the box in the upper left corner and any material containing the word or phrase will be displayed for your review.

N.B. §22 of the New York State General Construction Law, in pertinent part, provides that “Whenever words of the masculine or feminine gender appear in any law, rule or regulation, unless the sense of the sentence indicates otherwise, they shall be deemed to refer to both male or female persons.” NYPPL follows this protocol.

July 23, 2019

The New York Department of Civil Service has posted a General Information Bulletin No. 19-05 concerning identifying certain positions in the non-competitive class with the Greek letter "phi" [Φ].



GENERAL INFORMATION BULLETIN No. 19-05

TO: Department and Agency Directors of Human Resource, Personnel and Affirmative Action Officers
FROM: Allen Jordan, Manager (Commission Operations)
SUBJECT: Phi tag Designation Criteria
DATE: May 30, 2019

Please be advised that pursuant to Civil Service Law section 42(2-a), the Civil Service Commission is the entity empowered to designate, among positions in the non-competitive class, those positions which are confidential or require the performance of functions that formulate or influence policy in an agency. Positions so designated are recorded in Appendix 2 of the Rules for the Classified Service (the non-competitive class) with the Greek letter "phi."

When seeking approval for non-competitive classification of a position, agencies must provide a detailed explanation of the position, duties and responsibilities for which Commission determination will be sought. The explanation should include a description of why a phi designation is requested.

Alternatively, the Commission may choose to apply a phi designation to a given position, even if the phi designation has not been requested by an agency.

To provide clarity, the phi designation criteria for the Commission's consideration includes the following:

Non-competitive positions where the duties include acting in a confidential capacity to an appointing authority or having a close relationship with an appointing authority may be designated as confidential positions. Merely dealing with sensitive and/or confidential information will not necessarily justify a phi designation.

Non-competitive positions where the duties include formulating or influencing policy may be phi-designated.

Incumbents of phi-designated positions cannot acquire tenure protection in such positions unless they are honorably discharged wartime veterans or exempt volunteer firefighters*, as noted in Civil Service Law section 75(1)(b).

* Exempt volunteer firefighters should not be confused with positions in the exempt jurisdictional class.

Termination of employment ruled "disproportionate to the offense" under the circumstances and remanded to the appointing authority for the imposition of a lesser penalty


In this appeal to the Appellate Division was asked to review a determination by a appointing authority, [Respondent], that resulted in the termination of a school bus driver,   [Plaintiff] after Respondent found Plaintiff guilty of Civil Service Law §75 disciplinary charges alleging that Plaintiff had slapped a special needs student, [SNS], in the course of her attempts to calm him.

The Appellate Division's decision reports that on the day of the incident, the SNS, in addition to other acts, commenced to yell and scream when he was given a book instead of the toy truck that he was accustomed to receiving upon boarding the bus. It was undisputed that SNS ultimately became very aggressive and started to swing his arms at a social worker and punched Plaintiff in her stomach. Petitioner's reaction to the punch was to slap the student on the face with her open hand.*

The Appellate Division commented that Respondent's determination finding Plaintiff guilty of three disciplinary charges was supported by substantial evidence. The court, however, citing the so-called Pell Doctrine,** then concluded that, in light of Respondent's otherwise unblemished disciplinary record during her 20 years of service as a school bus driver, including five years driving special needs students, termination, "absent any other previous progressive disciplinary steps, is so disproportionate to the offense committed as to shock one's sense of fairness."

The court explained that in this instance Plaintiff was confronted by a student who, due to his special needs, lost control of his behavior and was significantly disrupting the other students on the bus, some of whom were also struggling to behave. Further said the court, Plaintiff's "conduct was not premeditated and, under these circumstances, appears to be the result of a momentary lapse of judgment."

In addition, the decision indicates that "there is nothing in [Plaintiff's]  employment history to suggest that she will ever engage in similar conduct again" and that the record reflects the fact that "although [Plantiff] had to 'separate or corral' students on occasion, she had never previously made physical contact with a student and was never reprimanded for her actions."

In this 3 to 2 decision, the majority of the Appellate Division panel opined that "[a]lthough termination in these circumstances shocks our sense of fairness, we do not condone [Plaintiff's] behavior, and only conclude that some form of discipline short of termination would be appropriate."

The court then remanded the matter to the Respondent "for the imposition of an appropriate penalty less severe than termination."

* As a result of the incident, Plaintiff had been subjected to criminal charges, which were ultimately dismissed "in furtherance of justice."

** Pell v Board of Educ. of Union Free School Dist. No. 1 of Towns of Scarsdale & Mamaroneck, Westchester County, 34 NY2d 222

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
______________

A Reasonable Disciplinary Penalty Under the Circumstances - Determining an appropriate disciplinary penalty to be imposed on an employee in the public service found guilty of misconduct or incompetence. For more information click on http://booklocker.com/7401.html

NEW YORK PUBLIC PERSONNEL LAW ELECTRONIC HANDBOOKS


Click here to Read a FREE excerpt from The Discipline Book concerning the due process rights of public employees in New York State.


Click here to Read a FREE excerpt from A Reasonable Disciplinary Penalty Under the Circumstances applied to public employees in New York State.


Click here to Read a FREE excerpt from The Layoff, Preferred List and Reinstatement Manual.


Click here to Read a FREE excerpt from Disability Benefits for fire, police and other public sector personnel.

Caution:

Subsequent court and administrative rulings, or changes to laws, rules and regulations may have modified or clarified or vacated or reversed the decisions summarized here. Accordingly, these summaries should be Shepardized® or otherwise checked to make certain that the most recent information is being considered by the reader.

THE MATERIAL ON THIS WEBSITE IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. AGAIN, REMEMBER THAT CHANGES IN LAWS, RULES, REGULATIONS AND NEW COURT AND ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS MAY AFFECT THE ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS LAWBLOG.

THE MATERIAL PRESENTED IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE AND THE USE OF ANY MATERIAL POSTED ON THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.


N.B. Consistent with the Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations, the material in this blog is presented with the understanding that neither the publisher nor members of the staff are providing legal advice to the reader and in the event legal or other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to seek such advice from a competent professional.