2014 NY Slip Op 07360, Appellate Division, Second Department
The basic rule set out in Holt is that a statutory disciplinary provision such as §75 of the Civil Service Law does not require that an employee be given a hearing or permitted to grieve every comment or statement by his or her employer that he or she may consider a criticism.
In both the Fusco and Irving cases the Commissioner of Education found that the alleged “critical comment” filed in the respective personnel file of these employees exceeded the parameters circumscribing “lawful instruction” seeking to correct unacceptable performance.
In Fusco’s case, the Commissioner said that the “contents of the memorandum” did not fall within the parameters of a “permissible evaluation” despite the school board’s claim that the memorandum was “intended to encourage positive change” in Fusco’s performance. The Commissioner noted that the memorandum "contains no constructive criticism or a single suggestion for improvement." Rather, said the Commissioner, the memorandum focused on “castigating [Fusco] for prior alleged misconduct."
In Irving’s case, a school principal was given a letter critical of her performance and the next day reassigned to another school where she was to serve as an assistant principal. The Commissioner ruled that these two actions, when considered as a single event, constituted disciplinary action within the meaning of §3020-a of the Education Law."
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