May 13, 2011

Recent decisions reported by the New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings

 Recent decisions reported by the New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings 

A deputy sheriff who served as union treasurer was discovered to have transferred funds totaling $13,266, drawn from union accounts into his own bank account. When confronted, he refused to reimburse the union or provide receipts showing how the money was spent. Administrative Law Judge John Spooner found that respondent’s theft was inconsistent with his law enforcement responsibilities, and recommended termination from employment. Dep’t of Finance v. Smyth (in PDF), OATH Index No. 1285/11 (Mar. 9, 2011), adopted, Comm’r Dec.

An eligibility specialist who was arrested for participating in a scheme to defraud Medicaid, was charged with failing to report her arrest, accessing New York City Human Resources Administration’s Welfare Management System (“WMS”) without authorization, obtaining information on four Medicaid beneficiaries, and providing the information to an outside party for compensation. Administrative Law Judge Ingrid Addison found no proof that respondent knowingly participated in a conspiracy to defraud Medicaid, or that she received any form of compensation. However, petitioner proved that respondent made four attempts to login to WMS with a supervisor’s password in violation of HRA’s policies. Because she found no evidence that respondent was knowingly and willingly complicit in the scheme, the ALJ found termination to be disproportionate to the proven misconduct and recommended that respondent be demoted to a position where she no longer has access to WMS and the sensitive agency information on that system.  Human Resources Admin. v. Mays (in PDF), OATH Index No. 1299/11 

Administrative Law Judge Ingrid Addison recommended dismissal of multiple charges against a computer specialist that she was not competent to perform her job. Petitioner proved that respondent made six errors in a six-month period, but failed to prove that respondent’s errors were willful, or that there was such a proliferation of them so as to deem her incompetent. Petitioner established respondent was insubordinate when she yelled at her supervisor, did not respond to a voice message, and did not update operating procedures properly. The recommended penalty was a 25-day suspension. Transit Auth. v. Victor (in PDF), OATH Index No. 799/11 (Mar. 3, 2011), adopted, Comm’r Dec

New York City Human Resources Administration alleged that respondent was absent without authorization for three periods totaling 16 months. Respondent asserted that her absences were caused by various medical conditions, particularly depression. However, respondent did not provide sufficient proof of her medical conditions. She admitted that she was never treated for depression and that her absences were not authorized. Administrative Law Judge Joan Salzman found that, though respondent had some personal difficulties, termination of employment was the appropriate penalty for her lengthy AWOL, where she had failed to follow procedures for medical absences and to communicate with the Administration about her need for leave. Human Resources Admin. v. Gonzalez (in PDF), OATH Index No. 972/11