February 05, 2019

Applying compensation limitations retroactively


Applying compensation limitations retroactively
People v Edward J. Murphy, 235 A.D.2d 554

In 1993 certain limitations on the amount of compensation that a BOCES Superintendent could receive were enacted into law [Chapter 295, Laws of 1993].

In the Murphy case the Appellate Division concluded that the limitations set out in Chapter 295 did not apply retroactively.

The case arose when the State attempted to recover a portion of what the Appellate Division described as an "overly generous BOCES compensation package (which included extensive sick and vacation leave time and the right to liquidate this leave at full-pay)" granted to its then BOCES Superintendent Edward J. Murphy.

The Court said that "while improvident, BOCES' offer to Murphy, and his acceptance of the overly generous BOCES compensation package ... did not violate any articulated public policy." 

Further, the Court ruled that although the law now places a limitation on the amount of compensation that a BOCES superintendent may receive, "at the time Murphy began working at BOCES and continuing throughout his tenure as the BOCES district superintendent, the law provided for no such restrictions. Accordingly, the Court decided, Murphy's employment agreements with BOCES were neither illegal nor unauthorized.

The ruling suggests that all or part of a "compensation package" in place prior to the effective date of the enactment or the amendment of a law limiting the compensation of a public officer or a public employee then in service may survive judicial challenge even if the compensation package is in excess of that authorized by the law as enacted or amended.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:


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