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Friday, June 24, 2011

Employee terminated after being found guilty of moral turpitude and dishonesty


Employee terminated after being found guilty of moral turpitude and dishonesty
Health and Hospitals Corporation v Saavedra, OATH Index #1404/11 [Modified as to the penalty to be imposed]

OATH Administrative Law Judge Faye Lewis ruled that a community associate could be sanctioned for off-duty misconduct based upon her admission that she took $4,680 from the City retirement system (NYCERS) that she knew did not belong to her.

The woman had taken a loan from NYCERS and a check was mailed to her even though the money had already been electronically deposited into her account. She cashed the check knowing she was not entitled to it.

ALJ Lewis found a nexus between the conduct and her job, i.e., she was able to obtain the pension loan from NYCERS because she works for the City of New York.
Judge Lewis noted that crimes of larceny are indicative of moral turpitude, which may constitute a basis for discipline.

As to the penalty to be imposed, the Administrative Law Judge found the employee’s expression of remorse at trial to be sincere and noted that the misconduct was not premeditated, but a crime of opportunity and recommended that a 60-day suspension without pay be imposed by the appointing authority.

However, Raquel Ayala, as the designee of Antonio Martin, Kings County Hospital Center's Executive Director, accepted Judge Lewis’ findings of fact but disagreed with Judge Lewis' recommended penalty of a sixty (60) day suspension and imposed the penalty of termination,* concluding that the employee had breached her employer’s trust which, said Ms. Ayala, is essential to anyone’s employment.

Ms. Ayala noted that her determination may be appealed by application to the Personnel Review Board or in accordance with Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules.

* The courts have ruled that the appointing authority may impose a harsher penalty than the penalty recommended by a disciplinary hearing officer [see Alamio v Ambach, 91 AD2d 695 and Henry v Village of Palmyra, 105 AD2d 1159 for examples of such actions and the standards to be followed in such cases].

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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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