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January 14, 2020

Effective date of permanent appointment to a position in the classified service

In an appeal challenging the termination of an employee before the completion of his probationary period, the Appellate Division  noted  that the appointing authority had determined that at the time of the employee's termination there were 25 days remaining in his probationary period and that because he had not yet been "permanently appointed to the position, he was not entitled to a pretermination hearing under Civil Service Law §75 or the applicable collective bargaining agreement."

It would have been more accurate had the appointing authority indicated that there were 25 days remaining in the employee's probationary period and that although he had completed his minimum period of probation, he had not yet attained tenure in the position and thus the employee, although appointed to the position as a permanent employee, was not entitled to a Civil Service Law §75 pretermination hearing or an equivalent disciplinary procedure set out in the controlling collective bargaining agreement.

As a general rule, an individual appointed to a position on a permanent basis has such status on the effective date of the "permanent appointment" but does not attain tenure in the position until:

[1] he satisfactorily completes his maximum period of probation; or

[2] by estoppel, acquisition, default, or otherwise by operation of law; or

[3] as the result of the appointing authority's lawfully truncating the individual's maximum period of probation.

In addition, tenure may be acquired in consideration of certain military service performed during a probationary period or by other lawful process.

York v McGuire, 63 NY2d 760, sets out the basic rule concerning the dismissal of probationary employees as follows: “After completing his or her minimum period of probation and prior to completing his or her maximum period of probation, a probationary employee can be dismissed without a hearing and without a statement of reasons, as long as there is no proof that the dismissal was done for a constitutionally impermissible purpose, or in violation of statutory or decisional law, or the decision was made in bad faith.”

This limitation on summarily dismissing a probationary employee during the minimum probationary period is to provide the individual a minimum period of time to demonstrate his ability to satisfactorily perform the duties of the position. In contrast, should the appointing authority elect to terminate a probationary employee before he has completed the required minimum period of probation, the individual is entitled to administrative due process, i.e., "notice and hearing," otherwise to be accorded a "tenured employee."

Further, the distinction between a date of "permanent appointment" in the position in contrast to the date on which an appointee "attains tenure" in the position is illustrated in other provisions of the Civil Service Law such as §80.1, Layoff, where, in pertinent part, it provides that ... incumbents holding the same or similar positions shall be made in the inverse order of original appointment on a permanent basis in the classified service in the service of the governmental jurisdiction in which such abolition or reduction of positions occurs".

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