August 08, 2019

Summaries of recent findings and recommendations of New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings [OATH] Administrative Law Judges.


N.B. For information concerning the disposition of the matter by the relevant appointing authority, please telephone OATH's Calendar Unit at 1-212-933-3097.
                  
Former Deputy Commissioner classified certain agency employees improperly

A former Deputy Commissioner and staff analyst [Respondent] was charged with inaccurately designating 30 agency employees as performing exclusively Medicaid work. The improper designation resulted in the reimbursement of over $7 million from the State which had to be refunded. The analyst testified that he was aware that Medicaid-funded staff had to perform exclusively Medicaid duties, and conceded that between 2015 and 2017, most of the employees were improperly classified.

Administrative Law Judged [ALJ] John B. Spooner found the charges were not time-barred because the conduct charged would constitute a crime and thus fell under the crimes exception to limitations provision of §75(4) of the Civil Service Law.

Finding that the analyst’s motive for maintaining the falsehood was to protect his division from losing staff, ALJ Spooner sustained the charges and recommended termination of Respondent’s employment.

The full text of the decision, OATH Index No. 1236/19, is posted on the Internet at: http://archive.citylaw.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/oath/19_cases/19-1236.pdf


Employee found guilty of submitting a misleading report

A special officer [Respondent] employed at a men’s shelter was charged with using excessive force to unlawfully restrain a shelter client and with submitting a false statement about the incident.

Video footage showed the client engaging in a prolonged verbal dispute with another special officer. Without justification, that second officer approached and shoved the client backwards. The client pushed back and a struggle ensued between the client, the second officer, and a third officer who had joined in to try to force the client to the ground. As the client was resisting attempts to wrestle him to the ground, Petitioner grabbed his leg. The client fell to the ground with the other two officers on top of him. Respondent let go of the client’s leg and did not physically touch him again except to help handcuff his hands behind his back.

ALJ Faye Lewis found that even though the initial force by the second officer was not justified, once the client began to resist, the Appointing Authority failed to establish that Respondent assisting in handcuffing him. This was limited force appropriate under the circumstances.

However, ALJ Lewis sustained the false statement charge. Respondent submitted a report in which she stated that the house manager requested that the client be detained as an emotionally disturbed person. Respondent admitted at trial that she did not hear the house manager say this, but relied upon information provided to her by another officer. By signing the report, she represented that the report contained her observations. Because this was not true, Respondent’s report was misleading. For the proven false statement charge, ALJ Lewis recommended a ten-day suspension with credit for time served. 

The full text of the decision, OATH Index No. 587/19, is posted on the Internet at:


Using the agency’s mail system for personal correspondence

An associate contract specialist [Respondent] was charged with committing an act relating to her office which constitutes an unauthorized exercise of her official function, engaging in non-Department business during working hours and mailing personal correspondence using the Department’s mail system.

The charges arose from allegations that Respondentused her job with the Department and Department resources to secure summer jobs for her foster son and his friend.

A Department official responsible for overseeing youth employment programs testified that Respondent called her, identified herself as a Department employee, and asked to discuss her foster son’s status. The official testified that Respondent’s foster son had already been accepted to the program, and the official testified that she did not take any additional action on his behalf as a result of Respondent’s call.

Respondent later called a youth employer on behalf of her foster son’s friend, identified herself as a Department employee, and implied that she was calling on behalf of the Department. For several months, Respondentwas in contact via her work email and phone with the youth employer to correct issues with the friend’s time sheets. The employer testified that they would not have offered a job to the friend if the Respondent had not made the initial call.

ALJ Joycelyn McGeachy-Kuls recommended dismissal of the first charge, finding the Appointing Authority failed to prove respondent committed an act relating to her office which constituted an unauthorized exercise of her job function, because youth employment was not part of her job. She also recommended dismissal of the second charge because the Appointing Authority did not prove that Respondent made the phone calls or the emails during work hours.

ALJ McGeachy-Kuls, however, sustained the charge that Respondent used the agency’s mail system for personal correspondence, and she recommended a five day suspension in light of the fact that Respondent had no prior disciplinary record. 

The full text of the decision, OATH Index No. 1995/18, is posted on the Internet at:

CAUTION

Subsequent court and administrative rulings, or changes to laws, rules and regulations may have modified or clarified or vacated or reversed the decisions summarized here. Accordingly, these summaries should be Shepardized® or otherwise checked to make certain that the most recent information is being considered by the reader.
THE MATERIAL ON THIS WEBSITE IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. AGAIN, CHANGES IN LAWS, RULES, REGULATIONS AND NEW COURT AND ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS MAY AFFECT THE ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS LAWBLOG. THE MATERIAL PRESENTED IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE AND THE USE OF ANY MATERIAL POSTED ON THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.
Consistent with the Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations, the material in this blog is presented with the understanding that neither the publisher nor members of the staff are providing legal advice to the reader and in the event legal or other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to seek such advice from a competent professional.