Rejection of an applicant for appointment as a police officer based on “psychological unsuitability”
Massaro v Mercado, 276 AD2d 445
After being rejected for appointment as a police officer, Louis Massaro filed a complaint with the Division of Human Rights. Massaro contended that the New York Police Department had unlawfully discriminated against him because of his disability. According to the decision, Massaro was rejected for appointment as a police officer of the grounds of psychological unsuitability for the position.
After initially finding probable cause, the State Division of Human Rights [DHR] dismissed Massaro’s compliant without conducting an administrative hearing. Massaro sued in an effort to compel DHR to conduct a hearing, only to have his petition dismissed by State Supreme Court Judge Lottie Watkins.
The Appellate Division affirmed Judge Watkins’ action, holding that DHR “was not required to conduct a hearing simply because it had previously made a probable cause determination in [Massaro’s] favor.”
There was no question that Massaro was rejected after a finding of psychological unsuitability. However, said the court, this is neither a disability within the meaning of the Human Rights Law nor was it perceived as a disability by the Police Department.
As the Division of Human Rights cannot disturb a hiring decision absent a showing that the decision was influenced by unlawful discrimination, the Appellate Division agreed that it should not be required to hold a hearing when it is clear that such a showing cannot be made.
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