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March 07, 2011

Agency’s use of its non-punitive procedure not a prerequisite to disciplinary action

Agency’s use of its non-punitive procedure not a prerequisite to disciplinary action
Matter of Van Osten v Horn, 37 AD3d 317

The Commissioner of the New York City Department of Corrections terminated correction officer Michele Van Osten’s employment after finding her guilty of disciplinary charges that her absences from work were excessive and inadequately explained, and that she was unable to perform the full range of her duties as a corrections officer.

One of the arguments advanced by Van Osten was that the Department could not bring formal disciplinary proceedings against her because it had not earlier provided her with the “informal, non-punitive mechanism adopted by [the] Department to address certain employee misconduct.”

The Appellate Division ruled that fact that such an informal, non-punitive mechanism had been adopted by Department [sometimes referred to as "progresssive discipline"] and could be utilized by the Department at its discretion did not limit its prerogative to initiate formal disciplinary proceedings against an employee pursuant to the Civil Service Law without first using its informal procedure.

As to the penalty imposed, termination, the court said that “Under the circumstances, termination is not a sanction shocking to our sense of fairness,” citing Kelly v Safir, 96 NY2d 32.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://nypublicpersonnellawarchives.blogspot.com/2007/02/discipline-not-barred-by-availability.html


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, - a concise guide to disciplinary actions involving public employees in New York State is a 1272 page e-book available from the Public Employment Law Press. Click on http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/ for additional information concerning this electronic reference manual.
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