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Nominations sought for the Empire Star Public Service Award

This award recognizes exemplary employees of New York State serving in the Executive Branch.

Nominations must be submitted no later than December 15, 2017 and may be completed online.

For more information about the Empire Star Public Service Award, visit www.ny.gov/EmpireStarPublicService.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

An individual who refused to report for appropriate light duty denied General Municipal Law §207-c disability benefits effective on and after the date of such refusal


An individual who refused to report for appropriate light duty denied General Municipal Law §207-c disability benefits effective on and after the date of such refusal
Farina v County of Orange, 2015 NY Slip Op 08408, Appellate Division, Second Department

General Municipal Law §207-c(1) entitles correction officers to certain enumerated benefits, including the payment of full salary or wages, where the officer "is injured in the performance of his [or her] duties or . . . is taken sick as a result of the performance of his [or her] duties" and to eligible for such disability benefits the municipal employee "need only prove a direct causal relationship between job duties and the resulting illness or injury." 

A county correction officer, Ronald Farina, slipped and fell while performing his rounds at a county correctional facility. Farina was examined by two physicians. One physician concluded that Farina was capable of working in a light duty capacity; the second physician concluding that Farina was incapable of working "for the next 10 days." Although the Undersheriff issued an order directing Farina to return to work in a light duty capacity effective July 20, Farina did not return to work until July 30.

Subsequently the Undersheriff denied Farina’s application for benefits pursuant to General Municipal Law §207-c. A hearing was conducted and the hearing officer found that Farina was fit to return to light duty status on July 20 but refused to do so and confirmed the Undersherriff's determination denying Farina any §207-c benefits.

Farina then filed a petition pursuant to CPLR Article 78 seeking a court order annulling the hearing officer's determination and the restoration of the leave time he was charged while he was out of work due to the injuries he sustained.

The Appellate Division noted that the standard of review of an administrative determination made after a hearing is limited to considering whether the determination was supported by substantial evidence and the test of whether the administrative determination is supported by substantial evidence is whether, on the relebant record, a reasonable person might have made the findings and conclusions made by the administrative agency.

Citing Flynn v Pease, 242 AD2d 331, the Appellate Division noted that a municipality is entitled to conduct its own medical examination of an employee claiming §207-c benefitsand if the medical examiner concludes that the individual can perform light duty relevant to his or her position, payment of the individual's full amount of salary or wages may be discontinued should the employee refuse to return to work in a light-duty assignment.

In this instance the court said that the record indicates a direct relationship between Farina’s job duties and his resulting injuries and therefore, he qualified for benefits pursuant to General Municipal Law §207-c and the Undersheriff’s determination to deny Farina §207-c benefits from the date of the accident, July 6, up to and including July 19 -- prior to the ordered start of Farina light duty assignment -- was not supported by substantial evidence.

In contrast, the Appellate Division held that there was substantial evidence to support the hearing officer's determination that Farina was fit to return to light duty when he was ordered to do so on July 20. Because Farina refused to report for his light duty assignment on July 20, the court ruled that he was not entitled to the §207-c benefits he requested from that date forward.

Accordingly, the Appellate Division vacated the determination of the hearing officer denying §207-c benefits for the period of July 6 up to and including July 19, but otherwise denied Farina’s petition. Thus the County was directed to award Farina §207-c benefits only for the period of July 6 through and including July 19.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
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Disability Leave for fire, police and other public sector personnel - a 1098 page e-book focusing on administering General Municipal Law §§207-a/207-c and other laws, rules, regulations and court decisions addressing disability and similar leaves absence. For more information click on http://booklocker.com/3916.html
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Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

Challenging Adverse Personnel Decisions at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

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