Imposing the penalty of termination must not be so disproportionate to the offense committed as to be shocking to the court's sense of fairness
Monahan v City of Glen Cove, 2015 NY Slip Op 06920, Appellate Division, Second Department
An employee of the City of Glen Cove, Kevin Monahan, was served with disciplinary charges. The City adopted the findings of a hearing officer, made after a hearing, that Monahan was guilty of fraud and offering a false instrument for filing. The penalty imposed: terminated of Monahan's employment.
Monahan appealed his dismissal from his position with the City, contending that a lesser penalty should have been imposed.
The Appellate Division said that a judicial review of an administrative determination made after a trial-type hearing directed by law is limited to whether the determination is supported by substantial evidence. Further, said the court, in the event there is conflicting evidence or different inferences may be drawn from the evidence in the record, "the duty of weighing the evidence and making the choice rests solely upon the [administrative tribunal]. The courts may not weigh the evidence or reject the choice made by [such tribunal] where the evidence is conflicting and room for choice exists."
The Appellate Division then noted that any “credibility issues were resolved by the hearing officer, and [it found] no basis upon which to disturb the hearing officer's determination, which, the court noted, was supported by substantial evidence.
As to the penalty imposed by the City, the court cited the so-called “Pell Doctrine”* and found that “Contrary to the [employee's] contention, under the circumstances presented, the penalty of termination of his employment was not so disproportionate to the offense committed as to be shocking to one's sense of fairness.”
* Pell v Board of Educ. of Union Free School Dist. No. 1 of Towns of Scarsdale and Mamaroneck, Westchester County, 34 NY2d 222
The decision is posted on the Internet at:
A Reasonable Penalty Under The Circumstances - a 618-page e-book focusing on determining an appropriate disciplinary penalty to be imposed on an employee in the public service. For more information click on http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com/