April 22, 2019

Factors considered by courts in evaluating the disciplinary penalty imposed on an employee found guilty of misconduct


Supreme Court denied an Educator's petition seeking to vacate the determination of the New York City Board of Education [DOE] terminating her from employment after a Disciplinary Hearing Officer had found her guilty of a number of charges and specifications.

The Appellate Division said that the hearing officer's findings had a rational basis and were supported by adequate evidence and  included a finding that Educator had  abdicated her responsibilities as a teacher in violation of school protocol by "leaving a student in crisis with a school aide," and other incidents that the court's decision characterized as "causing unwelcome confusion for the student and her family."

Citing Bolt v New York City Department of Education, 30 NY3d 1065, the Appellate Division noted that considering "controlling precedent," its sense of fairness was not shocked by DOE's imposing the penalty of termination following the Educator's being found guilty of the several charges and specifications filed against her.  The Appellate Division also noted Educator's "poor judgment, and her failure to take responsibility for her actions or demonstrate any remorse gave no indication that her inappropriate behavior was likely to change."

The court then opined that absent a disciplinary penalty being obviously disproportionate to the misconduct and in contravention of the public interest and policy reflected by the agency's mission, in this instance "the mere fact that a penalty is harsh, and imposes severe consequences on an individual," did not affront its sense of fairness that it shocked the conscience of the court.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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A Reasonable Disciplinary Penalty Under the Circumstances - Determining an appropriate disciplinary penalty to be imposed on an employee in the public service found guilty of misconduct or incompetence. For more information click on   http://booklocker.com/7401.html
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