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Monday, April 25, 2011

Vacating a disciplinary arbitration award

Vacating a disciplinary arbitration award
Roemer v NYC Bd. of Ed., 268 AD2d 479, Motion for leave to appeal denied, 94 NY2d 763

The Roemer decision serves as a reminder that the grounds for appealing a Section 3020-a disciplinary determination are very limited. In order to overturn a Section 3020-a arbitration award, it is necessary to prove that one or more of the statutory reasons set out in Article 75 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules for vacating the award exist.

Under Article 75, [Section 7511.b] an arbitrator’s award can be vacated if a court finds that the rights of a party were violated because of corruption, fraud or misconduct in obtaining the award; the arbitrator was not impartial; to one party; the arbitrator exceed his or her powers or so imperfectly exercised them that a final determination was not made or the arbitration procedures were not followed [unless the party objecting to the award continued with the arbitration without objection after becoming aware of the defect].

Here David Roemer, a New York City schoolteacher, was terminated after the Section 3020-a arbitrator found him guilty of charges of incompetence and insubordination. He attempted to vacate the award. However, the Appellate Division sustained the Supreme Court’s dismissal of Roemer’s petition to vacate the award because Roemer “did not demonstrate” any basis for vacating the award under Section 7511.

In addition to the limited grounds for vacating the arbitration award set in Section 7511, Section 3020-a set a very short statute of limitations for filing a petition to overturn or modify the award as well as settling other limitations in such cases. Section 3020-a.5 sets out the following limitations with respect to challenging a Section 3020-a disciplinary determination:

1. Not later than ten days after receipt of the hearing officer’s decision, the employee or the employing board may make an application to the New York state supreme court to vacate or modify the decision of the hearing officer pursuant to CPLR Section 7511.

2. The court’s review shall be limited to the grounds set forth in Article 75. Further, the hearing panel’s determination shall be deemed final for the purpose of such proceeding.

3. In no case shall the filing or the pendency of an appeal delay the implementation of the decision of the hearing officer.

Point 3 is particularly significant as it allows the appointing authority to impose the penalty determined by the arbitrator while the decision is being challenged.

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The Discipline Book, - 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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Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

A Reasonable Penalty Under The Circumstances at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

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