Friday, August 09, 2013

Substantial evidence required to support a finding of guilt in a disciplinary proceeding


Substantial evidence required to support a finding of guilt in a disciplinary proceeding
34 AD3d 580; 34 AD3d 672

The Town of Islip filed disciplinary charges against an employee pursuant to Section 75 of the Civil Service Law. The charges alleged that the employee had "engaged in misconduct by accepting salary payments from the Town [of Islip] to which he was not entitled." A hearing officer conducted a disciplinary hearing and found the employee guilty of misconduct and recommended that the Town terminate his employment.

The Town adopted the hearing officer’s findings and recommendation and dismissed the employee from his position. the employee sued, contending that the record lacked substantial evidence to support this determination.

The Appellate Division, Second Department, agreed. It ruled that “Under the facts of this case, the determination that [the employee] engaged in misconduct was not supported by substantial evidence.” It annulled the Town’s determination and directed that it reinstate the employee

What constitutes “substantial evidence” for the purposed of a Section 75 disciplinary determination?

This question was considered in the decision in 34 AD3d 580. Here the Appellate Division, Second Department, commented that "Substantial evidence has been defined as such relevant proof as a reasonable mind may accept as adequate to support a conclusion or ultimate fact."

Further, said the court, “it is the function of the administrative agency or the Hearing Officer, not the reviewing court, to weigh the evidence or assess the credibility of witnesses and determine which testimony to accept and which to reject," citing Sahni v New York City Bd. of Educ., 240 AD2d 751.

Concluding that the disciplinary determination finding the accused employee guilty of disciplinary charges was supported by substantial evidence and, additionally, the imposed penalty of dismissal was not so disproportionate to the offense as to be shocking to one's sense of fairness, citing the Pell Doctrine (Matter of Pell v Board of Educ., 34 NY2d 222), the Appellate Division dismissed the plaintiff's petition.

The decision in 34 AD3d 580 is posted on the Internet at:

The decision in 34 AD3d 672 is posted on the Internet at:


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Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

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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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