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May 22, 2017

An employee may be subjected to disciplinary action for misusing his or her sick leave accruals


An employee may be subjected to disciplinary action for misusing his or her sick leave accruals
1. Decisions of the Commissioner of Education, Decision 11,111
2. NYC Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings [OATH], OATH Index No. 1468/17

Typically "attendance rules" for public employees permit the employee use his or her sick leave accruals to absent himself or herself from work in the event of personal illness, to care for a family member, including an opposite sex or a same-sex partner or a same-sex spouse, who is ill, for medical appointments, obtaining and training a medical service animal, in connection with pregnancy and other medical situations.

Some jurisdictions permit an employee to absent himself or herself from work without charge to leave credits in the event he or she is subjected to a "medical quarantine" while the availability and use of paid sick leave, sick leave at one-half pay and sick leave without pay by employees in a "collective bargaining unit" pursuant to an employer's "attendance rules" may be subject to provisions set out in a collective bargaining agreement. 

In any event, disciplinary action may be taken being taken against the employee who misuses his or her sick leave benefits.

For example, in Decisions of the Commissioner of Education #11,111, a teacher appealed a disciplinary hearing panel's finding her found guilty of "falsifying records" based on her misusing "family sick leave" benefits and suspending her without pay for nine and one half months.

The panel had found that the teacher had absented herself from work, charging her absence to her sick leave credits for an alleged “family illness” for three days immediately preceding the school district’s spring recess. The teacher, however, chanced to meet her principal at an "out of state" vacation site that they both were visiting on one of the days she had charged to her “family sick leave” leave credits. 

In OATH Index No. 1468/17 OATH Administrative Law Judge John B. Spooner found that a special officer violated his employer's rules when he absented himself from work for seven days using his sick leave accruals in order to remain on the payroll while attending "paid training sessions" being given by a private security company.

Judge Spooner rejected the officer’s claim that he was not working for the private company when he attended its training sessions, explaining that the officer’s signature on a letter accepting a position with the private company and his attending its required pre-employment training program constituted the commencement of an employment relationship with the company.

The judge also sustained charges alleging that the officer disobeyed instructions not to engage in  "outside work" without the prior approval of the Agency.

The ALJ recommended that the officer be terminated from his position with the Agency.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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