Terminating an employee while he or she is on Workers’ Compensation Leave pursuant to Civil Service Law §71
Still v City of Middletown, 2015 NY Slip Op 08741, Appellate Division, Second Department
After Terri Still had been absent from her position on Workers’ Compensation Law pursuant to §71 of the Civil Service Law for one than one year,* her employer, the City of Middletown, advised her that she would be terminated from her position.**
Prior to the effective date of Still’s termination, however, the City scheduled a meeting with Still and gave her an opportunity to present any evidence as to why the City should not proceed with the termination of her employment. Still failed to show that she was medically fit to return to work, with or without a reasonable accommodation, and she was terminated.
Still then initiated an Article 78 action challenging her termination. Supreme Court, Orange County, denied her petition, in effect dismissed the proceeding, and Still appealed the court’s ruling.
The Appellate Division sustained the Supreme Court’s determination, explaining that the standard of judicial review in this instance was whether the appointing authority’s action was arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, in violation of lawful procedure, or affected by an error of law.
Under the circumstances, said the court, "the City's decision to terminate [Still’s] employment was not arbitrary or capricious, an abuse of discretion, in violation of lawful procedure, or affected by an error of law."
N. B. An individual unable to perform the duties of his or her position due to an injury or disease that is not “job related” and which did not result in a permanent disability is entitled to be placed on leave without pay pursuant to §72 of the Civil Service Law -- Leave for Ordinary Disability -- for at least one year. Such an individual may be terminated from his or her position pursuant to §73 of the Civil Service Law after one year of such leave at the discretion of the appointing authority.
* An employee sustaining a disability resulting from an assault suffered in the course of his or her employment is entitled to a leave of absence for at least two years unless his or her disability is of such a nature as to permanently incapacitate him or her for the performance of the duties of his or her position.
** Termination from Workers’ Compensation Leave pursuant to CSL §71 is not pejorative in nature and the individual may, within one year after the termination of his or her disability, file an application with the civil service department or municipal commission having jurisdiction for reinstatement to his or her former position and is to be reinstated if then found qualified to resume the duties of his or her former position. If the position, or a similar position, is not available, the name of the individual is to be placed on a preferred list in accordance with §80 or §80-A of the Civil Service Law.
The decision is posted on the Internet at:
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