Appointing authority not required to offer a probationary employee a second extension of his or her probationary period
2013 NY Slip Op 07686, Appellate Division,
Supreme Court, New York County, annulled the New York City Department of Education’s decision to terminate a probationary principal, [Probationer] and directed the Department to reinstate her to her position, with back pay. The Appellate Division unanimously reversed the lower court’s decision, on the law.
The Appellate Division explained that Probationer had failed to meet her burden of establishing that she was terminated in bad faith or for an improper or impermissible reason.
The court said that the record indicated that the district superintendent had various concerns about Probationer’s performance with respect to “students' academic performance, school budgetary issues, and her leadership abilities” throughout Probationer’s probationary period.
As a result, Probationer was offered extensions of her probationary employment twice.
Although she had accepted the initial offer of extending her probationary period, Probationer did not willingly accept the Department’s offer to extend the probationary employment a second time, noting on the second probationary extension agreement that “she disagreed with numerous clauses and that she was signing the offer ‘under duress.’" The Department then terminated Probationer from the principal position.
In particular, the Appellate Division noted that “[The Department was] not required, simply because [it] had done so once, to extend [Probationer’s] probation a second time despite [its] concerns about her performance.”
Addressing other aspects of Probationer’s petition, the Appellate Division said that:
1. Probationer had failed establish a prima faciecase of unlawful discrimination or retaliation, based on her claim of an environmental disability, under the State and City Human Rights Laws; and
2. The facts in this case “undermine the allegation that [Probationer] was denied a reasonable accommodation by the Department of Education's Medical Bureau,” as she had been provided with an air purifier, and she did not complain again about her condition until after she was offered the second extension of probation, rather than tenure.
The decision is posted on the Internet at:http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2013/2013_07686.htm