November 20, 2018

Appealing disciplinary decisions


Appealing disciplinary decisions
Wood v Cosgrove, 237 A.D.2d 616

Marilyn Wood appealed her demotion from her position as head clerk after being found guilty of two counts of incompetence to the Suffolk County Civil Service Commission pursuant to §76.3 of the Civil Service Law. When the Commission rejected her appeal as untimely, Wood challenged its ruling by filing an Article 78 petition.

§76.1 provides that appeals to the commission having jurisdiction shall be made within 20 days of the receipt of written notice of the determination to be reviewed. In the alternative, §76.1 allows the employee to appeal by filing an Article 78 petition with the court. The Statute of Limitations for filing an Article 78 petition is four months.

The Appellate Division affirmed a New York State Supreme Court ruling dismissing her Article 78 appeal on the grounds that the proceeding was barred by §76.3 of the Civil Service Law because she had elected to pursue an "administrative appeal." In addition, the Court said that Wood failed to demonstrate that the Commission's denial of her appeal as untimely was "in violation of State law, or that the Commission acted illegally, unconstitutionally or in excess of its jurisdiction."

In another case, also captioned Wood v Cosgrove, Wood unsuccessfully challenged her termination from her position with the Suffolk County Police Department after being found guilty of five specifications of misconduct. Wood claimed that she had been prejudiced by the hearing officer's refusal to "recuse herself" from the proceeding, which action demonstrated bias. 

The Appellate Division said that Wood had failed to rebut the presumption of the integrity of those serving as adjudicators.  The Court also said that the determination of the hearing officer was supported by substantial evidence in the record.


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