January 16, 2019

Failure to file a timely appeal fatal to a party's challenging an arbitration award


Failure to file a timely appeal fatal to a party's challenging an arbitration award
Martin v Department of Educ. of the City of N.Y., 018 NY Slip Op 09018, Appellate Division, First Department

The Appellate Division affirmed the Supreme Court's ruling granting the Department of Education's (DOE) cross-motion to dismiss Lorna Martin's petition seeking to vacate an arbitration award terminating her employment.

Addressing a number of procedural issues, the Appellate Division first explained that Martin failed to commence her CPLR Article 75 proceeding within 10 days of her receipt of the Hearing Officer's decision as mandated by Education Law §3020-a[5][a].

The court, citing Leon v Department of Education of the City of New York, 115 AD3d 435, then opined that Martin did not show that she suffered prejudice as a result of [1] the disciplinary hearing not being completed within 125 days (see Education Law §3020-a[3][c][vii]) or [2] the arbitration award not being issued within 30 days of the last day of the hearing (see Education Law §3020-a[4][a]) due to the arbitrator's failure to meet either, or both, of these deadlines.

Addressing other issues raised by Martin in her appeal, the court found that [1] the Hearing Officer did not abuse his discretion in granting a one-day adjournment at the outset of the hearing nor [2] did Martin establish, "by clear and convincing evidence," that the Hearing Officer was biased.

Further, said the Appellate Division, the award was supported by "adequate evidence," was rational, and was not arbitrary and capricious nor was there any no basis to disturb the Hearing Officer's credibility findings.

In the words of the court, "[u]nder the circumstances presented, the termination of [Martin's] employment does not shock our sense of fairness" notwithstanding "an almost 30-year career with DOE" as the record shows that Martin committed many instances of misconduct, including threatening behavior and insubordination, and "she continued to deny any wrongdoing."

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
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