Probationary employee terminated after testing positive for cocaine
2015 NY Slip Op 03359, Appellate Division, Second Department
The New York City Transit Authority [Authority] terminated the employment of a subway conductor [Conductor] who was then serving as a probationary employee.
Conductor had sustained injuries in an off-duty motor vehicle accident and was absent from work for a period of more than 21 days. As a condition of returning to work, Conductor was required to undergo a medical evaluation, including the administration of a drug test. Conductor tested positive for cocaine and the Authority terminated his employment.
Conductor filed an Article 78 petition seeking a court order directing his reinstatement to his former position. Supreme Court denied Conductor’s petition and Conductor appealed the court’s dismissal of the proceeding.
The Appellate Division sustained the Supreme Court’s ruling. Citing York v McGuire, 63 NY2d 760, the court explained that a probationary employee may be discharged without a hearing* and without a statement of reasons in the absence of any demonstration that the termination was in bad faith, for a constitutionally impermissible purpose, or in violation of statutory or decisional law. Finding that Conductor failed to carry his burden of presenting competent proof of bad faith, illegal reasons, or a violation of statutory or decisional law, the court dismissed his appeal.
As to the Authority’s decision to terminate Conductor, the Appellate Division said that “the penalty of termination was not so disproportionate to the offense as to be shocking to one's sense of fairness.”
* N.B. Where a probationary period has been set in terms of a minimum and a maximum period of probation, case law holds that if the appointing authority elected to terminate a probationary employee during his or her minimum period of probation, such an individual is entitled to a notice and hearing in the same manner as a tenured individual.
The decision is posted on the Internet at: