Friday, June 15, 2012
Placement of a candidates name on an eligible list does not give the individual a right to an appointment
Tardif v Town of Southold, 56 AD3d 755
John J. Tardif filed a notice of claim alleging that the Town of Southold, and the Town's police department, did not appoint him as a police officer even though he had "the best qualifications" and "the number one test score" on the examination to become a police officer because of his age.*
The Town moved for summary judgment, contending it did not discriminate against Tardif because of his age but elected not to appoint him “because he submitted deceptive responses in his application to become a police officer.”
In opposing the Town’s motion, Tardif did not make any argument in support of his age discrimination claim. He, instead, contended that the Town “had violated his constitutional rights to due process and equal protection in other ways.” The Appellate Division, however, ruled that Tardif failed to raise any triable issue of fact with regard to any of his constitutional claim.
The court pointed out that Tardif does not have a protectable property interest in a position with the Town's police department that would entitle him to maintain a due process claim. In this regard, said the court, “An individual does not have a "legally protectable interest" in an appointment to the position of police officer merely because he or she achieved a sufficient score on the examination to be placed on an eligibility list,” citing Andriola v Ortiz, 82 NY2d 320 and Cassidy v Municipal Civil Service Commission of City of New Rochelle, 37 NY2d 526.
Specifically, the Appellate Division commented that "'An appointing authority has wide discretion in determining the fitness of candidates . . . This discretion is particularly broad in the hiring of law enforcement officers, to whom high standards may be applied . . . As long as the administrative determination is not irrational or arbitrary, this Court will not interfere with it."
As Tardif did not have a property interest in an appointment as a police officer and failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to the deprivation of a protected liberty interest, the Appellate Division held that the Supreme Court had properly determined that he had failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether he was deprived of his constitutional right to due process.
Finally, said the court, Tardif did not establish any right to a “name-clearing hearing” with respect to his rejection for appointment as a police officer by the Town.
*Section 54 of the Civil Service Law sets out standards for establishing age requirement for appointment to positions in the public service in general while Section 58.1(a) sets out age requirements for police officers in particular.
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