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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Doctrine of Legislative Equivalency


The Doctrine of Legislative Equivalency
Babor v Nassau County Civil Service Commission, 297 A.D.2d 342

The doctrine of legislative equivalency, applied by the Court of Appeals in deciding the Torre case [Torre v County of Nassau, 86 NY2d 421, was also a key factor in the Babor case. The doctrine sets out the principle that a position created by a legislative act can be abolished only by a correlative legislative act. The Babor case concerned the abolishment of a number of positions by the Nassau County Commissioner of Health.

Marguerite Babor served as a Nassau County public health administrator. When the Nassau County Board of Supervisors adopted a budget reducing the Health Department's 1992 appropriation more than 20% below its appropriation for 1991, positions encumbered by Babor and other public health employees were abolished. This resulted in a number of layoffs.

Babor and other individuals sued the County and the Nassau County Civil Service Commission contending that their former positions had been abolished in bad faith. They also argued that their layoffs were in violation of Section 61.2 of the Civil Service Law as other employees were required to perform their former duties as "out-of-title" work.

Finally, they contended that the abolishment of their former positions violated the doctrine of legislative equivalency as only the legislature, which they claimed created their positions, could direct that they be abolished. In other words, they argued, a county administrator may not unilaterally abolish a position created by the legislature.

Supreme Court, Nassau County granted the County's motion for summary judgment and dismissed Babor's petition. The Appellate Division reversed that part of the Supreme Court's dismissal rejecting Babor's argument based on the doctrine of legislative equivalency and remitted the case to the lower court.

The Appellate Division said that while, on it face, Babor's petition presents an issue as to whether the doctrine of legislative equivalency was violated, the parties provide different interpretations of the documentary evidence relevant to making a determination concerning the issue. Therefore, said the court, the Supreme Court must resolve this aspect of the case. Accordingly, summarily dismissing this branch of their claim was improper and a trial was required to resolve the issues of fact involved.

In contrast, the Appellate Division ruled that the Supreme Court "properly dismissed" Babor's petition insofar as she sought reinstatement to her position based on allegations that the County acted in bad faith and violated Section 61.2 of the Civil Service Law by assigning out-of-title work to other employees. With respect to these aspects of Babor's petition the Appellate Division concluded that:

The County established its entitlement to summary judgment with respect to those claims, and [Babor] failed to present evidence sufficient to raise any triable issues of fact.

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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