The Appellate Division ruled that dismissal of one or more Charges and, or, specification set out in a §75 disciplinary action required remanding the matter to the appointing authority for reconsideration of the disciplinary penalty imposed on the employee.
The appointing authority filed disciplinary charges against an employee [Petitioner] pursuant to Civil Service Law §75. Charge I consisted of six specifications alleging misconduct and, or, incompetence in connection with the Petitioner's performance in handling "911 calls" on a specified date while Charge II, consisted of five specifications, alleged misconduct and, or, incompetence in Petitioner's handling of 911 calls on a different specified date.
After Petitioner testified concerning the "911 calls" underlying Charges I and II, the appointing authority directed a further investigation into the Petitioner's handling of other 911 calls. The findings resulting from this "further investigation" led to the appointing authority's filing "seven supplemental charges", Supplemental Charges I through and including VII against the Petitioner. Each such supplemental Charge set out multiple specifications of alleged misconduct in Petitioner's handling of these seven additional "911 calls."
The §75 disciplinary hearing officer designated by the appointing authority found Petitioner guilty of various, but not all, Charges and specifications and recommended that the Petitioner's employment be terminated given "the number and extent of his instances of misconduct and/or incompetence."
Petitioner then initiated a CPLR Article 78 action in Supreme Court seeking a judicial review the appointing authority's determination to impose the penalty of dismissal from employment. Supreme Court transferred the matter to the Appellate Division pursuant to CPLR §7804(g).
The Appellate Division explained that judicial review of an employee's Article 78 proceeding involving employee discipline made after a hearing pursuant to Civil Service Law §75 is limited to consideration of whether that determination was supported by substantial evidence. Further, the Appellate Division opined that courts may not weigh the evidence or reject the choice made by the appointing authority where the evidence is conflicting and room for choice exist, or where different inferences may be drawn, as "the duty of weighing the evidence and making the choice rests solely upon the [appointing authority]."
Here any credibility issues were resolved by the disciplinary hearing officer. Further, substantial evidence in the record supports the determination that the Petitioner was guilty of the misconduct alleged in certain, but not all, Charges and Specifications. Here, however, the Appellate Division ruled that "specifications 3 and 4 of Charge II, and a portion of specification 6 of Supplemental Charge VII cannot be sustained."
Concluding that the appointing authority had imposed the penalty of termination of Petitioner's employment in consideration of "all of the specifications for which he was found guilty, and [the court had dismissed] three of those specifications," the Appellate Division, citing Aronsky v Board of Educ., Community School Dist. No. 22 of City of N.Y., 75 NY2d 997, vacated the penalty of dismissal and remitted the matter to the appointing authority "to consider the appropriate penalty to be imposed upon the remainder of the charges and specifications for which he was found guilty, and the imposition of that penalty thereafter" in consideration of only the Charges and specifications that had survived judicial review.
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