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March 02, 2021

An employer may rely on its medical expert's opinion if there are conflicting medical opinions as to an applicant's ability to perform the duties of the position

Supreme Court granted the New York City Fire Department's [NYFD] motion to dismiss Plaintiff's CPLR Article 78 petition challenging NYFD's decision disqualifying him for appointment the position of firefighter for medical reasons. Plaintiff's appeal from the Supreme Court's decision was sustained by the Appellate Division, which found that NYFD's decision was not arbitrary and capricious, or without a rational basis.

Citing Matter of Rivers v New York City Dept. of Sanitation, 49 AD3d 436, the court said that the record indicated that Plaintiff "had profound sensorineural hearing loss in his left ear," which, under the standards promulgated by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), was grounds to disqualify him from appointment to the position of firefighter

NYFD's physician had considered Plaintiff's medical submissions and letters from his former colleagues, but ultimately determined that his unequal hearing would interfere with his ability to perform search and rescue operations safely, as well as tasks requiring an ability to localize faint sounds in high-noise environments.

NYFD's physician also opined that Plaintiff's hearing loss in his left ear was progressive and would further impair his ability to serve as a firefighter. 

Although Plaintiff's physicians had reached a different conclusion, the Appellate Division said that these different conclusions on the part of Plaintiff's physicians  "does not render [NYFD's] medical examiner's conclusions arbitrary and capricious."

Click HERE to access the Appellate Division's decision.

 

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