Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Employee found guilty of misconduct based on hearsay evidence presented at the disciplinary hearing

Employee found guilty of misconduct based on hearsay evidence presented at the disciplinary hearing
Matter of Matter of Paul v Israel, 2011 NY Slip Op 08947, Appellate Division, Second Department

Josephine Paul challenged the Westchester Medical Center’s decision to terminate her following a Civil Service Law §75 disciplinary hearing in which she was found guilty of misconduct, contending that the hearing officer’s determination was not supported by substantial evidence and was based on hearsay testimony.

The Appellate Division confirmed the appointing officer’s decision and dismissed her petition challenging the penalty imposed “on the merits.”

Finding that there was substantial evidence in the record to support the determination of the Westchester Medical Center that Paul was guilty of misconduct, the court ruled that her argument that the administrative determination is not supported by substantial evidence because the evidence presented was hearsay was without merit.

As to the penalty imposed, termination, the Appellate Division said that dismissal “was not so disproportionate to the offense committed as to be shocking to one's sense of fairness, thus constituting an abuse of discretion as a matter of law,” citing Matter of Pell v Board of Educ. of Union Free School Dist. No. 1 of Towns of Scarsdale & Mamaroneck, Westchester County, 34 NY2d 222.

Frequently the use of hearsay evidence in a disciplinary hearing is claimed to justify the vacating of an adverse disciplinary decision. In Roldan v Bartton, 203 A.D.2d 368, Roldan argued that the hearing officer had improperly admitted "certain hearsay evidence" in the course of the hearing. The court said that Roldan's contention was "unpersuasive," holding that "it is well settled that hearsay is admissible in administrative hearings and may form the basis of an adverse determination," citing Gray v Adduci, 73 NY2d 741.

The Paul decision is posted on the Internet at: 
http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2011/2011_08947.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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