Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Appointing authority may not summarily terminate an individual’s General Municipal Law §207-c disability benefits


Appointing authority may not summarily terminate an individual’s General Municipal Law §207-c disability benefits
Kempkes v Downey, 53 AD3d 547

The Chief of Police of the Village of Bronxville suspended the full-salary payments being made to a Bronxville police officer while he was on disability leave pursuant to General Municipal Law §207-c, advising the officer that he would be suspended without pay pending a disciplinary hearing.

The officer sued, contending that the Village was obligated to pay his disability benefits pursuant to General Municipal Law §207-c pending an evidentiary hearing, because the benefits conferred under General Municipal Law §207-c constitute a vested property interest. Supreme Court granted the officer’s petition.

The Appellate Division affirmed the Supreme Court's decision, commenting that “The payment of benefits that have been conferred pursuant to General Municipal Law §207-c constitutes a protected property interest.” 

Significantly, the Appellate Division rejected the Village’s argument that the Westchester County Police Act (Chapter 891, Laws of 1972), "takes precedence" over General Municipal Law §207-c. In this instance the court said that the pertinent issue was whether General Municipal Law §207-c creates a protected property interest in disability benefits such that a predeprivation hearing must be held, even if the Act generally allows for the suspension of a police officer's salary prior to a disciplinary hearing.

The constitutional guarantee of due process provided a recipient of benefits under General Municipal Law §207-c requires that an evidentiary hearing prior to the deprivation of such benefits. Accordingly, said the court, the Village may not discontinue the payment of General Municipal Law § 207-c benefits as a disciplinary sanction without a prior evidentiary hearing.

As the officer had not been given such a hearing, the court prohibited Bronxville from reducing, terminating, or suspending his §207-c benefits “until a final determination of the disciplinary charges has been made after an evidentiary hearing held upon notice.”

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://nypublicpersonnellawarchives.blogspot.com/2008/07/employer-may-not-summarily-terminate.html

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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