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June 22, 2010

Probationary termination

Probationary termination
Higgins v La Paglia, 281 A.D.2d 679, appeal dismissed, 96 N.Y.2d 854

The Ulster County Sheriff Michael L. Paglia terminated correction officer Bradley Higgins at the end of his one-year probationary period. Higgins filed a grievance and initiated an Article 78 action seeking to overturn the Sheriff's decision.

Higgins claimed that he held tenure and thus was entitled to "notice and hearing" before he could be terminated. He cited a statement in the Ulster County Employees' Handbook that defined the probationary term as being a minimum of eight weeks and a maximum of 26 weeks.

The court rejected this argument, pointing out that the statement in the handbook contravenes the Ulster County Civil Service Rules and Regulations dealing with probation.

Finding that Higgins was a probationary employee at the time of his termination, the court said that he could be dismissed without a hearing unless he proffered sufficient evidence to create a question of fact as to whether his discharge was unrelated to work performance, motivated by a constitutionally impermissible purpose or made in bad faith.

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.