Sunday, June 08, 2014

Disciplinary decision vacated as employer failed to cite any law or rule that classified the employee’s alleged actions as misconduct


Disciplinary decision vacated as employer failed to cite any law or rule that classified the employee’s alleged actions as misconduct
2014 NY Slip Op 03958, Appellate Division, First Department

In a §3020-a disciplinary action the arbitrator found a teacher guilty of misconduct and terminating his employment with the New York City Department of Education. Supreme Court confirmed the arbitration award and the teacher appealed.

The Appellate Division unanimously vacated the lower court’s ruling and vacated the arbitration award, explaining that the Department of Education “has not identified any rule or statute that classifies [the] statements and action [alleged] as teacher misconduct." Thus, the court found that, in consideration of the circumstances, the finding that the teacher's actions constituted teacher misconduct was not supported by adequate evidence, and is arbitrary and capricious.

The Appellate Division also noted that the teacher did have “a disciplinary history including findings of non-sexual touching of students, and that two prior disciplinary awards expressly warned him not to touch his students again,” However, said the court, it is undisputed that the teacher did not touch any of his students “in the case at bar” and thus, contrary to the arbitrator's finding, the evidence did not indicate that teacher had failed to heed prior warnings.

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