Individual’s letter of resignation and settlement agreement contingent on appointing authority’s approval may be rescinded while such approval is pending
Matter of Civil Serv. Empls. Assn. Inc., A.F.S.C.M.E., Local 1000, A.F.L.-C.I.O. v Baldwin Union Free School Dist., 84 AD3d 1232
Francesco Pignataro filed an Article 78 petition seeking a court order allowing him to revoke his letter of resignation from his position of school custodian and the settlement agreement he submitted to his then former employer, the Baldwin Union Free School District.
The agreement, in pertinent part, stated that: (1) it was in settlement of the grievance for available leave accruals; (2) Pignataro would be paid $50,000 for accumulated leave days from October 1, 2007; and (3) Pignataro "shall" submit a letter of resignation for purpose of retirement, to be effective as of the close of business on August 12, 2009.
Significantly, the agreement also stated that it was subject to Board approval and in the event the Board "does not approve this agreement, such resignation shall be deemed withdrawn, and Mr. Pignataro shall remain an employee of the District.*
Prior to the Board’s approving the agreement Pignataro sent a letter to the district stating that he rescinded his resignation and the "proposed settlement". Notwithstanding this, the Board, by its President, signed the settlement agreement, and thereby refusing to permit Pignataro to “withdraw his resignation”** and repudiate the settlement agreement.
Supreme Court ruled that the settlement agreement was binding on Pignataro and under its terms he was not able to repudiate the settlement, rescind his resignation nor revive his employment with the District.
The Appellate Division disagreed, holding that “[c]ontrary to the Supreme Court's holding, the settlement agreement was not binding on Pignataro when he sought to withdraw his resignation and to reject the settlement.”
The court explained that "[a]s Pignataro withdrew his resignation and rejected the terms of the settlement agreement before the Board had accepted the terms of the settlement, there was no enforceable settlement agreement and Pignataro … was entitled to revoke his offer to settle his grievance.”
Accordingly, Pignataro’s revocation of the offer to settle prior to the Board’s approval of the settlement agreement terminated the Board's power to accept it. Thus, said the court, Pignataro effectively revoked the settlement and rescinded his resignation and thus he is entitled to reinstatement to his former position with the school district.
* The agreement provided that in the event the Board rejected the agreement, Pignataro's leave entitlements would be restored to him, "retroactive to July 17th 2009"; the District, Board, and its employees would be released from "all actions, suits, charges, claims, grievances, etc.,” and all pending arbitrations and grievances filed on behalf of Mr. Pignataro shall be withdrawn with prejudice."
** Typically once the employee has delivered his or her resignation to the appointing authority or its designee, he or she may not withdraw or rescind the resignation without the approval of the appointing authority. For example, 4 NYCRR 5.3(c), which applies to employees in the classified service of the State and public authorities, public benefit corporations and other agencies for which the Civil Service Law is administered by the State Department of Civil Service, provides that “A resignation may not be withdrawn, cancelled or amended after it is delivered to the appointing authority, without the consent of the appointing authority.” Many local civil service commissions and personnel officers have adopted a similar rule.