Friday, December 04, 2015

The dismissal of a probationary employee will not survive judicial review if the court finds that it was made in bad faith, for a constitutionally impermissible purpose, or in violation of the law



The dismissal of a probationary employee will not survive judicial review if the court finds that it was made in bad faith, for a constitutionally impermissible purpose, or in violation of the law
Rieser v New York City Dept. of Educ., 2015 NY Slip Op 08119, Appellate Division, First Department

Michael Rieser, a probationary teacher employed by the New York City Department of Education [DOE], received an unsatisfactory performance rating and ultimately DOE terminated him from his position. Rieser than filed a CPLR Article 78 petition seeking a court order annulling DOE’s decision to discontinue his employment by DOE and to expunge the unsatisfactory rating of Rieser’s performance as a probationary teacher. Supreme Court granted Rieser’s petition and DOE appealed.

The Appellate Division unanimously reversed the Supreme Court’s ruling on the law and the facts and dismissed Rieser’s Article 78 petition.

The court explained that Rieser failed to show that DOE's determination to discontinue his probationary employment was made in bad faith, for a constitutionally impermissible purpose, or in violation of the law.

As to the unsatisfactory performance rating given Rieser, the Appellate Division said that he failed to show that the unsatisfactory rating was arbitrary and capricious.

The court noted that Rieser’s performance rating was “rationally supported by, among other things, witness statements and the principal's letter describing his investigation and finding that [Rieser] had used corporal punishment on a special education student” and there was no indication that the principal or DOE made their decisions in bad faith.

Another issue raised by Rieser concerned the composition of the Chancellor's Committee that reviewed his performance rating. However the court said that Rieser did not raise this issue at his administrative hearing and thus it was not preserved for the purposes of appeal. In any event, said the Appellate Division, “a substantial [due process] right of Rieser was not violated, since the Committee ruled unanimously in his favor.”

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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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