Thursday, March 01, 2012

Employee found to have violated employer's domiciliary policy terminated

Employee found to have violated employer's domiciliary policy terminated
Adrian v Board of Educ. of City School Dist. of City of Niagara Falls, 2012 NY Slip Op 01293, Appellate Division, Fourth Department

Roxanne Adrian sued to annul the School Board’s determination terminating her employment with Niagara Falls City School District based on her failure to comply with the District's residency policy. The District’s policy required District employees to be domiciliaries of the City of Niagara Falls.

The Appellate Division vacated Supreme Court’s granting Adrian’s petition, stating that . “it is well established that a "domicile means living in [a] locality with intent to make it a fixed and permanent home. "

The court said that the evidence presented to the Board was sufficient to establish that Adrian was not a domiciliary of the City but rather was domiciled in Williamsville.

The evidence considered by the Board included proof that Adrian maintained a phone line at the Williamsville residence but not at the Niagara Falls residence that Department of Motor Vehicles records indicated that she lived at the Williamsville address.*

The court also noted that “a surveillance company observed petitioner on six separate occasions, during different time periods, and found that [Adrian] she never went to the Niagara Falls residence and always left from and returned to the Williamsville residence.

While Adrian submitted some evidence “demonstrating that the Niagara Falls residence may have been her domicile” such as her voter registration card, rent payment receipts, driver's license and cable statements, that evidence was not so overwhelming as to support Supreme Court's determination granting Adrian’s petition.

The Appellate Division, citing O’Connor v Board of Education, Niagara Falls City School District, 48 AD3d 1254, leave to appeal dismissed 10 NY3d 928, also rejected Adrian’s claim the District improperly failed to conduct a hearing before terminating her, explaining that such a hearing was not required by law.

In Gigliotti v Bianco, 82 AD3d 1636, the court said that assuming that the District had provided Gigliotti with an opportunity, in contrast to a hearing, to show that the educator satisfied the District’s requirement regarding domicile, the court disagreed with the District’s conclusion that Gigliotti was not domiciled in Niagara Falls.

Significantly, the court commented that although the District did not conduct a hearing before terminating Gigliotti’s employment, such a hearing was not "required by statute or law," citing Colton v Berman, 21 NY2d 322

Typically courts have viewed employees who lack required licenses as being “unqualified,” in contrast to being “incompetent,” to perform the duties of the position. In
Adrian failing to meet the school district’s domiciliary requirements apparently was similarly viewed.

* Although an individual may have, and maintain, a number of different residences simultaneously, he or she can have, and maintain, only one domicile at a given time. New York courts and the Department of Education have consistently interpreted residence as akin to domicile. Domicile requires bodily presence in a place with an intent to make it a fixed and permanent home (Matter of Newcomb, 192 NY 238 at 250 [1908]

The Adrian decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2012/2012_01293.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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