Thursday, July 11, 2013

Hearing officer’s discontinuing the hearing prior to completion because of individual’s unruly conduct creates a problem


Hearing officer’s discontinuing the hearing prior to completion because of individual’s unruly conduct creates a problem
88 A.D.2d 907

A person serving as a hearing officer may be tempted to terminate or “shorten” a hearing because one or more of the participants becomes unruly or abusive. In such situations the “rules of procedure” should be carefully considered.

The Chairperson at the administrative hearing stopped the hearing before the employee had an opportunity to make a “statement” specifically permitted by the controlling rules of procedure because of the individual’s “personal vituperation and ... abrasive behavior, despite repeated warnings” concerning such behavior by the hearing officer.

The Chairperson then sustained the employee’s unsatisfactory service rating, which determination was later affirmed by the Chancellor of the New York City Board of Education. The employee then sued, arguing that the Board had failed to follow its own procedures.

The Appellate Division, reversing a lower court ruling to the contrary, held that the failure to provide the employee with the “Review Format” was an abuse of the Chairperson’s discretionary powers to make necessary “adjustments” in the format and insure an “expeditious and non-repetitious presentation [and] denied (the employee) a substantial right”.

The matter was then sent back to the school district with instructions that employee “be given the opportunity to exercise his right to make a presentation and statement on his own behalf as provided in the Review Format”. 

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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