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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Dismissing a human rights complaint for "administrative convenience" and "dismissal of a human rights complaint on the merit" distinguished


Dismissing a human rights complaint for "administrative convenience" and "dismissal of a human rights complaint on the merit" distinguished
Vetro v Hampton Bays Union Free School Dist., 2017 NY Slip Op 01910, Appellate Division, Second Department

In an action seeking to recover damages for his alleged wrongful termination of employment by the Hampton Bays Union Free School District, Frank J. Vetro appealed an order of the Supreme Court that denied his motion for summary judgment on the complaint and granted Hampton Bay's cross motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint.

The Appellate Division sustained the lower court's ruling explaining that in this instance the "doctrine of election of remedies" barred Vetro from bringing an action in Supreme Court alleging the same discriminatory acts the he had advanced in his complaint filed with the New York State Division of Human [Division] in his complaint.

Executive Law §297(9) provides that in the event the Division has dismissed a complaint filed with it for "administrative convenience" the complainant is able to "maintain all rights to bring suit as if no complaint had been filed with the [Division]." In contrast, in the event the Division had dismissed the complaint or complaints on the merits and not for mere administrative convenience, recourse to Supreme Court alleging the same acts or omissions is not available to the complainant.

In particular, §297(9) provides that at  any  time  prior  to  a   hearing  before a hearing examiner, a person who has a complaint pending at the division may request that the division dismiss the complaint  and   annul his or her election of remedies so that the human rights law claim   may  be  pursued  in  court,  and  the  division may, upon such request,   dismiss the complaint on the grounds that such person's election  of  an   administrative  remedy  is  annulled.*

In this instance, said the Appellate Division, the Division of Human Rights dismissed Vetro's complaints on the "merits and not for mere administrative convenience." Thus, said the court, Supreme Court properly granted the school district's motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint on the ground that this action is barred by the election of remedies doctrine.

* N.B. A complaint filed by the Equal  Employment Opportunity Commission to comply with the requirements of 42 USC 2000e-5(c)and 42 USC 12117(a) and29 USC 633(b) does not constitute the filing of a complaint within the meaning of §297(9) of New York State's Executive Law.

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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