Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lack of substantial evidence to support findings of guilt of certain disciplinary charges results in remand to the appointing authority for new findings and reconsideration of the penalty to be imposed


Lack of substantial evidence to support findings of guilt of certain disciplinary charges results in remand to the appointing authority for new findings and reconsideration of the penalty to be imposed
Matter of Licciardi v City of Rochester, 2011 NY Slip Op 06781, Appellate Division, Fourth Department

The Appellate Division modified a portion of decision that found Mark A. Licciardi guilty of a number of act of alleged misconduct and remanded the matter to the City for “new findings” concerning one of the charges and for its reconsideration of penalty initially imposed, termination.

The court agreed with Licciardi contention that “several of the findings of misconduct rendered following a hearing are not supported by substantial evidence.”

In particular, the Appellate Division ruled that four of the charges of misconduct involved Licciardi's part-time outside employment while on sick leave from his employment as a firefighter. However, said the court, there was no relevant proof as a reasonable mind may accept as adequate to support [the] conclusion that working an additional part-time job while employed by respondent's Fire Department was not permitted or that the part-time job itself was improper or illegal.

The Department had alleged that Licciardi's conduct violated certain Department rules. The court ruled that there was no substantial evidence that Licciardi has conducted himself “in a manner unbecoming[] or prejudicial to the good reputation, the order, or discipline of the . . . Department” nor that he failed to conduct himself “at all times … to the credit of the Department.”

Further, the Appellate Division overturned the Department’s finding that Licciardi had violated the Department's rule that a member shall not " knowingly or intentionally make or cause to be made a false report in connection with the . . . Department or other employees thereof'” when he submitted a letter from his treating physician that stated without qualification that he was unable to work during the time that he was out on sick leave. The court noted that at the hearing Licciardi’s physician testified that Licciardi’s disability was causally related to a work incident at the Department and that, although he was prevented from working as a firefighter, the part-time job outside of the Department was therapeutic.

The court’s conclusion regarding this allegation was that it was not supported by substantial evidence.

Also, said the court, it agreed with Licciardi's contention that he had been found guilty of a charge “based on conduct that was not alleged in the single specification supporting the charge” and thus must be annulled “as outside the scope of the charge.”

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2011/2011_06781.htm

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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