Friday, August 05, 2011

Employer must reinstate employee absent on Workers’ Compensation Leave upon the certification by civil service commission’s medical officer that the individual is fit to perform the duties of his or her position

Employer must reinstate employee absent on Workers’ Compensation Leave upon the certification by civil service commission’s medical officer that the individual is fit to perform the duties of his or her position
Matter of Lazzari v Town of Eastchester, 2011 NY Slip Op 06125, Appellate Division, Second Department

Richard Lazzari, the Town of Eastchester’s Assistant Building Inspector and Deputy Building Inspector was on Workers’ Compensation Leave pursuant to §71 of the Civil Service Law. A medical officer appointed by the County of Westchester Department of Human Resources certified that Lazzari was physically and mentally fit to perform the duties of his former positions.

Supreme Court denied the Town’s petition seeking a copy of the medical officer’s report and directed the Town to reinstate Lazzari to his position with back salary.*

The Appellate Division held that Supreme Court properly determined that the County of Westchester Department of Human Resources (hereinafter the DHR) fully complied with Civil Service Law §71 in directing the Town of Eastchester to reinstate Lazzari to his former positions.

The court noted that §71 provides that an employee “who has been "separated from the service by reason of a disability resulting from occupational injury or disease as defined in the workmen's compensation law," may be reinstated to his or her former position if, after an independent medical examination conducted by a medical officer selected by the municipal commission "having jurisdiction over the position last held by [the employee]," such medical officer certifies that the employee is "physically and mentally fit to perform the duties of his or her former position."

The court rejected the Town’s contention that the Westchester Human Resources had to first provide it with the medical officer's certification that Lazzari was medical fit or the medical report on which the medical officer based the certification.

In addition, the Appellate Division held that Supreme Court was also correctly determined that Lazzari was entitled to back pay, retroactive to December 18, 2007, pursuant to Civil Service Law §77.

* In addition, the court awarded Lazzari and Paula Redd Zeman, as Commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Human Resources, the Westchester County Department of Human Resources, and the County of Westchester, one bill of costs payable by the Town of Eastchester and the Town Board of the Town of Eastchester.

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The Spring 2011 issue of Municipal Lawyer, Vol. 25, No.2, published by the New York State Bar Association’s Municipal Law Section, contains an article entitled Leaves of Absences for Disability Pursuant to Civil Service Law Sections 71 and 72.  To order a copy telephone the Bar Association at 518 487-5671 or 518-487-5672 or via  E-mail at newsletters@nysba.org

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/

Challenging Adverse Personnel Decisions 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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