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February 4, 2010

At-will employee not entitled to a pre-termination hearing

At-will employee not entitled to a pre-termination hearing
Matter of Dorsey v Herkimer County Community Coll., 61 AD3d 1380

Janet Evelyn Dorsey was employed by the Herkimer County Community College in a series of annual and biyearly appointments and did not have a continuing appointment or other tenure status with the College.

Herkimer terminated Dorsey’s employment following allegations of misconduct asserted against her by another employee. Dorsey sued, seeking a court order [1] annulling her dismissal and [2] directing the college to conduct a pre-termination hearing as a condition precedent to her being terminated from her employment.

Supreme Court granted her petition and the College appealed.

The Appellate Division vacated Supreme Court’s order, ruling that Dorsey had no guarantee of employment and the College “had not relinquished its right to terminate [her] without notice and hearing.” The court said that Dorsey’s status with Herkimer was that of “an at-will employee” and thereby it could suspend or dismiss her from employment without a hearing and without a statement of reasons in the absence of proof that the dismissal was for “a constitutionally impermissible purpose or contrary to statutory or decisional law.”

The court said that Dorsey had not presented any evidence that her termination was for “a constitutionally impermissible purpose or contrary to statutory or decisional law."In addition, said the Appellate Division, there is no provision in the College’s employee handbook that prohibits it from suspending or terminating an employee without first conducting a hearing.

NEW YORK PUBLIC PERSONNEL LAW ELECTRONIC HANDBOOKS

The Discipline Book - A concise guide to disciplinary actions involving public officers and employees in New York State. For more information click on http://booklocker.com/books/5215.html

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

Disability Benefits for fire, police and other public sector personnel - Addresses retirement for disability under the NYS Employees' Retirement System, the NYS Teachers' Retirement System, General Municipal Law Sections 207-a/207-c and similar statutes providing benefits to employees injured both "on-the-job" and "off-the-job." For more information click on http://booklocker.com/books/3916.html

The Layoff, Preferred List and Reinstatement Manual -Focusing on relevant laws, rules and regulations, and selected court and administrative decisions. For more information click on http://booklocker.com/books/5216.html

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Text prepared by Harvey Randall except as otherwise noted. Randall, former Principal Attorney, New York State Department of Civil Service, also served as Director of Personnel for the State University System; as Director of Research, Governor’s Office of Employee Relations; and as Staff Judge Advocate General, New York Guard. He has an MPA from the Maxwell School, Syracuse University and a J.D. from Albany Law School.