The reasons that would support the vacating of a disciplinary penalty imposed by the arbitrator following a disciplinary hearing are limited
Esteban v Department of Educ. of the City School Dist. of the City of N.Y., 2015 NY Slip Op 06965
The New York City Department of Education [DOE] had filed disciplinary charges against Damian Esteban, a teacher employed by DOE, which were submitted for adjudication to an arbitrator pursuant to Education Law §3020-a. The arbitrator sustained certain of the charges and specifications and determined that the appropriate penalty for Esteban's misconduct was dismissal.
Esteban filed a petition to seeking a court order vacating that portion of a disciplinary arbitrator's decision that imposed the penalty of termination of his employment as a public school teacher. Supreme Court granted Esteban’s petition and remanded the matter for the imposition of an appropriate lesser penalty.
DOE appealed and the Appellate Division unanimously reversed the Supreme Court’s ruling on the law and dismissed the proceeding.
Citing Board of Educ. of Arlington Cent. School Dist. v Arlington Teachers Assn., 78 NY2d 33, the court explained that an arbitration award determining an employment dispute in public education may not be vacated unless "it violates a strong public policy, is irrational, or clearly exceeds a specifically enumerated limitation on the arbitrator's power."
The Appellate Division held that the penalty of dismissal was not irrational and was not against public policy. Nor, said the court, was it ultra vires* for the arbitrator to determine that Esteban's public possession of heroin warranted the penalty of dismissal.
Citing Lackow v Department of Education, 51 AD3 563, the court then held that imposing termination of employment as a penalty for such misconduct not "so disproportionate to the offense as to be shocking to the court's sense of fairness."
* An "ultra vires" act refers to an act or action that was beyond the scope of the authority of the arbitrator to perform. Here the court concluded that the penalty imposed on Esteban was not ultra vires.
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/