January 27, 2011

Extending the probationary period

Extending the probationary period
Subway-Surface Supervisors Assn. v New York City Tr. Auth., 2010 NY Slip Op 52339(U), Supreme Court, New York County, Judge Saliann Scarpulla, [Not selected for publication in the Official Reports.]

Subway-Surface Supervisors Association brought an action seeking to have the court void “stipulations of settlement” between the Association and the Authority.

The Association and the Authority had to increase the one-year probationary term for certain employees upon their promotion to a Supervisor position to a two-year probationary period. Shortly before the expiration of their two-year probationary periods, these Supervisors entered into a settlement agreement with the Transit Authority after the Authority had determined that had taken “excessive sick leave during their two-year probationary period.”

As probationary employees, the Supervisors were not entitled to a disciplinary hearing concerning the sick leave violations and each agreed to serve a two year disciplinary probation during which any violation of time and leave would result in dismissal.

The Association argued that the Supervisors already served the maximum amount of probation and further extension was not permitted under Title 55 of the Rules of the City of New York, Section 5.2.8.* In addition, the Association claimed that the Transit Authority failed to get “written authorization to extend the probationary period from the Commissioner of Citywide Administrative Services.” Finally, the Association contended that even if the extension was permitted, its length was “impermissible.”

The Authority, on the other hand, claimed that it had found that Supervisors had unsatisfactory attendance or excessive absenteeism and although these problems were. serious enough to justify their termination, it decided to give them a last chance to salvage their promotions. This, said the Authority, resulted the Supervisors agreeing to a last chance settlement that would allow them to keep their promotions by agreeing to a two-year disciplinary probation.

During that two-year disciplinary probation, any further time and leave violations would result in their dismissal should the arbitrator find that they had committed such further violations.

Supreme Court found that the Stipulations were not “an extension of any probationary period” but constituted a separate probation imposed for disciplinary purposes, freely entered into by the Supervisors.

* The general rule with respect to extensions of the probationary period for employees in the Classified Service is that in the event a probationary employee is absent during his or her probationary period, typically that employee’s probationary period is automatically extended for a period equal to the time the probationer was absent [see Matter of Mazur, 98 AD2d 974]. For example, 4 NYCRR 4.5(f), a Rule adopted by the State Civil Service Commission pursuant to the authority set out in Civil Service Law Section 63.2, provides that with respect to employees of the State as an employer, “the minimum and maximum periods of the probationary term of any employee shall be extended by the number of workdays of his [or her] absence which ... are not counted as time served in the probationary term.”

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2010/2010_52339.htm

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