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May 25, 2018

Admitting evidence of prior disciplinary action taken against the charged party


Admitting evidence of prior disciplinary action taken against the charged party
OATH Index No. 2310/17

Although the New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings Administrative Law Judge Joycelyn McGeachy-Kuls ruled that evidence of prior discipline is not admissible to prove an employee engaged in the charged misconduct, she said that prior disciplinary events may be used to rebut employee’s testimony that he was unaware of work rules.

Judge McGeachy-Kuls then admitted evidence of prior discipline for failure to complete forms in accordance with procedure to rebut employee’s testimony that he lacked notice of the procedure. This evidence was admitted solely for that purpose and not to prove that the employee had committed the charged misconduct.

In contrast, if an employee's personnel history will be considered by the hearing officer to determine the penalty to be imposed if the individual is found guilty of some, or all, of the disciplinary charges and specifications filed against the individual, he or she must be advised of such action.

In Bigelow v Village of Gouverneur, 63 NY2d 470, the Court of Appeals said that an employee's personnel records could be used to determine the penalty to be imposed if (a) the individual is advised that his or her prior disciplinary record would be considered in setting the penalty to be imposed, and (b) the employee is given an opportunity to submit a written response to any adverse material contained in the record or offer “mitigating circumstances.”

The decision is posted on the Internet at:


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