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April 14, 2014

Employee’s purported unresponsive answers to interrogatories used as a defense in disciplinary action


Employee’s purported unresponsive answers to interrogatories used as a defense in disciplinary action
OATH Index No. 876/14

The employer moved to preclude the employee from offering a defense to disciplinary charges based upon employee’s purported unresponsive answers to interrogatories.

OATH Administrative Law Judge Faye Lewis denied the employer’s motion explaining that interrogatories are an extraordinary discovery device, permissible only upon application for good cause shown.*

Under OATH’s rules of practice, the failure to comply with a discovery order may result in sanctions, including preclusion of evidence. Here, however, Judge Lewis found that the employee did not fail to comply with a discovery order. Rather, said the ALJ, the employee voluntarily answered the interrogatories, albeit not to employer’s satisfaction.

* Although Civil Service Law Section §75 does not provide for discovery in connection with a disciplinary hearing, Education Law §3020-a provides for demanding a “bill of particulars”. A contract disciplinary procedure negotiated pursuant to the Taylor Law may provide for “discovery.”

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://archive.citylaw.org/oath/11_Cases/14-876md.pdf
.

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