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October 23, 2012

Being at work is an essential job function


Being at work is an essential job function
Dickinson v New York State Unified Ct. Sys, 2012 NY Slip Op 06895, Appellate Division, First Department

The Appellate Division unanimously confirmed the termination of an employee found guilty of “certain disciplinary charges” that alleged both misconduct and incompetency due to excessive absenteeism and lateness.

Although the court agreed with the former employee that misconduct "requir[es] a showing of willfulness or intentional misconduct," it explained that "a finding of incompetence ... only requires evidence of some dereliction or neglect of duty."

There was, said the court, substantial evidence supporting the employer's determination and the employer was not required to warn the individual that his absences and tardiness could lead to dismissal notwithstanding the individual’s argument to the contrary.

The Appellate Division also ruled that the employer had not violated due process by relying on evidence of absences and tardiness outside the time period delineated in the specification of charges as such evidence was only considered in determining the appropriate sanction to be imposed and not to determine individual's guilt.

As to the penalty imposed, termination, the court said that it did not shock its sense of fairness as “[b]eing present at work is an essential job function” and an employee’s "disability ... may not be used to shield him from the adverse consequences of inadequate job performance."

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2012/2012_06895.htm

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