Recent decisions by OATH Administrative Law Judges
Source: New York City Office of Administrative Trials And Hearings
Physical altercations: A special officer was charged with engaging in an off-duty fight with a co-worker, making harassing phone calls to that co-worker, and striking a handcuffed homeless shelter resident in the face. ALJ Kevin F. Casey found that respondent was a willing participant in a fight with a co-worker at an off-duty event where many current and former agency employees were present. He recommended dismissal of the harassment charge because the Department did not prove that harassing phone calls were made or that special officer was the caller. As for the charge that the officer hit a resident, ALJ Casey found the testimony from the employer’s witness that he saw the officer strike a seated resident with a closed fist, more credible than the employee's claim that she pushed the resident after he charged at her with a head-butt motion. For the misconduct proven, ALJ Casey recommended a 60-day suspension. Dep't of Homeless Services v. Smith, OATH Index No. 518/14.
Excessive Absences: A computer programmer analyst was charged with misconduct, incompetence, and leaving her work station early on at least 165 occasions. ALJ Ingrid M. Addison found that the Agency condoned respondent’s practice of scanning out at 4:53 p.m., and recommended dismissal of that charge, but she sustained the charge that on each occasion that she scanned out at 4:53 p.m., respondent left her work station without authorization at least 18 minutes prior, in order to scan out on a different floor. ALJ Addison found that petitioner proved that respondent is incapable of performing the duties of her title. Although the Agency sought termination of respondent's employment, ALJ Addison found that petitioner must assume some responsibility for its failure to evaluate and assess respondent’s qualifications before assigning her to her position. She recommended demotion of respondent to her previous title. Financial Information Services Agency v. Leung, OATH Index No. 2115/13.
Failure to perform duties: A correction officer was found to have been excessively absent for missing 198 days of work in a nine-month period. Although the employee provided valid documentation for her continued absence, she still may be disciplined for failure to perform the duties of her position because of excessive absence. The employee was also found to have disobeyed orders on two occasions and to having filed a false report. Based on the high number of absences and the other misconduct proven, ALJ Alessandra F. Zorgniotti recommended the officer's termination from employment. Dep't of Correction v. Vives, OATH Index Nos. 1162/14, 1163/14 & 1164/14.
Leaving training class early: ALJ Faye Lewis found that an assistant civil engineer committed misconduct by leaving a training class early without authorization and by failing to participate in the class and instead reviewed other work material. The ALJ recommended the employee be suspended without pay for two days, finding that the Agency's proof failed to establish that employee was disruptive in class or that he committed misconduct because he had absented himself from class for two hours to attend a scheduled meeting with a supervisor. Dep't of Environmental Protection v. Frenzel, OATH Index No. 611/14.
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