Leslie Kahn, a probationary social worker, was given an unsatisfactory evaluation and was not given a “Certification of Completion of Probation.” She was then terminated from her position and advised that she was entitled to an administrative review under the relevant collective bargaining agreement. Kahn filed an "administrative appeal." An administrative hearing was held. The denial of a “Certification of Completion of Probation” was affirmed and Kahn initiated a lawsuit challenging that determination.
The court said that a petition to challenge the termination of probationary employment on substantive grounds must be brought within four months of the effective date of termination, citing CPLR §217. Significantly, the decisions points out that the controlling statute of limitations is not extended by the individual’s pursuit of administrative remedies.
To avoid such a result, where there is an administrative appeal available, it seems that the aggrieved party should make certain to both file a timely administrative appeal and a timely Article 78 petition.
In this instance the Department of Education was obligated by its collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the United Federation of Teachers and its own bylaws to afford probationary employees the opportunity for reconsideration of a decision to discontinue their employment. However, the Court of Appeals decided that such reviews "stem solely from the [CBA]" and constitute ‘an optional procedure under which a teacher may ask [DOE] to reconsider and reverse [its] initial decision, . . . which is final and which, when made, in all respects terminates the employment of a probationer under Education Law §2573(1)(a)’ … they are not administrative remedies that [Kahn was] required to exhaust before litigating the termination of [her] probationary employment.”