Benefits available to certain New York City management personnel modified by subsequent personnel order issued by the mayor
Matter of Kinach v de Blasio, 2018 NY Slip Op 04425, Appellate Division, First Department
The New York City Mayor's Personnel Order No. 2016/1 established certain paid leave benefits and modified a planned salary increase and reduced the amount of annual leave for managers with 15 or more years of experience. In addition, the order provided that, effective December 22, 2015, such New York City personnel subject to the order would be entitled to 30 days paid parental leave (PPL) every 12-month period for the birth of a child, adoption, or foster care.
MPO 2016/1 modified MPO 2015/1 and MPO 2015/2 by eliminating a 0.47% wage increase scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2017 and modified the annual leave schedule for covered titles by eliminating the accrual of the 26th and 27th annual leave days, capping the accrual of annual leave days at 25 days, in order to fund these benefits.
Petitioners, five managers all over the age of forty (40) and not in a collective bargaining unit within the meaning to Article 14 of the Civil Service Law, advanced a number of challenges involving MPO No. 2016/1 with respect to the modification of the benefits set out in MPO 2015/1 and MPO 2015/2.
Addressing Petitioners' claims of unlawful discrimination based on age, the Appellate Division held that Petitioners "failed to state a claim of age discrimination" as defined in the Administrative Code of City of NY §8-107, the New York City Human Rights Law or Executive Law §296[a] the New York State Human Rights Law and the adverse action alleged by Petitioners did not occur under circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination.
The court explained that the Petitioners' claim [a] was based upon the false premise that women over 40 years of age cannot bear children, [b] ignored the fact that PPL benefits were available to biological fathers, regardless of age, who becomes a parent through adoption or by fostering, and [c] was undercut by Petitioners' submission of data reflecting that members of their age group received PPL benefits.
In the words of the Appellate Division, "MPO No. 2016/1 is facially neutral and applies equally to all covered employees, regardless of age ... and no disparate impact has been shown" by Petitioners.
Addressing Petitioners equal protection argument, the court said Petitioners failed to demonstrate any violation of Article 1, §11 of the New York State Constitution as "MPO No. 2016/1 treats all similarly situated employees alike." Further, the Appellate Division found that the State's "non-impairment clause" set out in Article V, §7, of the State Constitution was "not implicated as the challenged action does not involve a change directly related to retirement benefits.
Considering the Petitioners' arguments challenging the "cost-cutting" measures the City elected to use "to pay for the PPL benefit," the Appellate Division held that the method selected by the City was not arbitrary and capricious and, notwithstanding Petitioners' claim that less extreme cost-cutting measures should have been taken, the court explained that such a belief "does not render [the City's] determination irrational."
The decision is posted on the Internet at: