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State of New York vs. COVID-19 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo periodically updates New Yorkers on the state's progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The latest reports of the number of new cases, the percentage of tests that were positive and many other relevant data points concerning COVID-19 are available at

N.B. §22 of the New York State's 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 applies this protocol to individuals referred to in a decision self-identifying as LGBTQA+.

June 3, 2009

Town may reduce health insurance

Town may reduce health insurance
Source: Informal Opinions of the State Comptroller, Op St Comp 80-105

The State Comptroller has issued an opinion indicating that a town may terminate the health insurance coverage of a retired town employee when the retiree becomes qualified for Medicare coverage benefits.

It appears that the view of the Comptroller is limited to local governments which are not participating in the State’s Employees’ Health Insurance Programs. §167-a of the Civil Service Law deals with this issue.

Necessity of an Arbitrator being present at the arbitration

Necessity of the Arbitrator being present at the arbitration
Amalgamated Transit Local 1181 v Amboy Bus Co., NYS Supreme Court, May, 1997, [Not selected for publication in the Official Reports]

Is it necessary for an arbitrator to be present to personally hear evidence presented at a arbitration proceeding, or may an arbitrator send a substitute to record testimony? This was the critical issue in the Amalgamated Transit Local 1181 case.

The case involved a school district that had a standing policy requiring a matron be present on a school bus any time a handicapped child was on board. When an Amboy Bus Company's school bus driver refused to pick up a handicapped child after having already dropped the matron off, she was terminated for insubordination. 

A disciplinary grievance arbitration was filed and scheduled to be heard before Arbitrator Theodore W. Kheel. However, Kheel did not attend the arbitration. Instead, his legal assistant appeared at the appointed time and discussed the situation with the parties.

The parties disagreed regarding what the legal assistant told them. According to the union, Kheel's assistant told both parties that Kheel could not be present but if there was no objection, she would conduct the hearing. She would report the evidence to Kheel who would make the determination based on the "record" she developed in the course of the arbitration.

In contrast, Amboy's general manager, who represented the Company at the arbitration, contended that Kheel's assistant merely said that Kheel would be late and that she would take notes for him. Further, the manager said that he was not told that he had the right to object to going forward with the arbitration under these conditions.

In any event, Kheel's assistant proceeded to take evidence concerning the matter and ultimately Kheel issued his award. The arbitration award that was signed by Kheel directed the reinstatement of the driver with back pay. The union moved to confirm the award and Amboy moved to vacate it.

Was Kheel's determination valid? State Supreme Court Justice Saxe ruled it was not and vacated the award, explaining that "where an arbitration agreement provides for the selection of the arbitrator, absent impossibility such method must be followed or the agreement cannot be said to have been complied with, within the meaning of CPLR 7511."*

Justice Saxe found a number of problems in the procedures followed in the hearing. For example, he said that although the parties may stipulate to an alteration of the agreed-upon procedure, "there is not showing here that any clear or clearly understood stipulation was made." The Court said: "Nothing was placed on the record or in any written form, nor were any statements made on the record indicating [Amboy's] acquiescence to the substitution of the assistant. Particularly when one of the parties is not represented by counsel, it is critical to ensure that such an alteration is in fact understood and agreed upon by both parties."

The lesson here is that if there is any deviation from the standard grievance or arbitration procedure agreed upon by the parties, the parties should be advised of their respective rights under the circumstances and if they mutually agree to go forward under the new arrangement, a stipulation to that effect should be made "on the record."

* §7511 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules [CPLR] is part of Article 75 of the CPLR and sets out the ground rules for arbitration.

Public Personnel Law E-books

The Discipline Book - A concise guide to disciplinary actions involving public employees in New York State set out in a 700 page e-book. For more information click on

A Reasonable Disciplinary Penalty Under the Circumstances - A 442-page e-book focusing on determining an appropriate disciplinary penalty to be imposed on an employee in the public service in instances where the employee has been found guilty of misconduct or incompetence. Now available in two formats - as a large, paperback print edition and as an e-book. For more information click on

The Layoff, Preferred List and Reinstatement Manual - A 645 page e-book reviewing the relevant laws, rules and regulations, and selected court and administrative decisions. For more information click on

Disability Leave for fire, police and other public sector personnel - A 1098 page e-book focusing on disability benefits available to public officers and employees employed by New York State and its political subdivisions. For more information click on