April 6, 2021

Conducting a disciplinary hearing after the employee has resigned from the position

Despite evidence supporting allegations of sexual misconduct involving students, a public employer in another state "determined that it could not make a decision" about the employee's culpability because [1] the employee's refused to participate in its investigation of the allegations and [2] the employee already submitted his resignation from his former position.

In New York State 4 NYCCR 5.3, Resignation, may be relevant in the event the appointing authority is faced with such a situation.

Applicable to employees in the Classified Service employed by the State of New York as the employer, 4 NYCCR 5.3, in pertinent part, provides that in the event an employee submits a resignation "when charges of incompetency or misconduct have been or are about to be filed against an employee," the appointing authority may elect to disregard a resignation filed by such employee and to prosecute such charges and specification as provided by law or the terms of the controlling collective bargaining agreement.*

In the event that the individual is found guilty of such charges and the penalty imposed is termination from the service, his termination would be recorded as a dismissal rather than as a resignation.

Should the individual refuse to participate in the investigation and, or, a disciplinary hearing, the appointing officer may elect to conduct the individual's disciplinary hearing "in absentia".

New York courts have held that the disciplinary hearing may proceed and the employee tried in absentia provided, however, the appointing authority has complied with a number of procedural steps, including the following:

1. The appointing authority must properly serve the employee with the disciplinary charges and advise him or her, among other things, of the date, time and place of the hearing;

2. That a diligent effort was made to contact the individual to determine if he or she has a reasonable explanation for his or her absence before the hearing officer proceeds with holding the hearing in the absence of the accused employee;

3. A formal hearing must be conducted and the appointing authority is required to introduce evidence proving its charges to the hearing officer;

4. A formal record of the hearing must be made and a transcript provided to the appointing authority and, if requested, to the employee; and

5. The employee must be advised of the appointing authority’s determination and of the employee's right of appeal if he or she has been found guilty of one or more of the charges.

As the Appellate Division held in Mujtaba v NYS Dept. of Education, 148 A.D.2d 819; 107 A.D.3d 1066, “due process does not require that [the charged individual] be present at an administrative hearing, but rather requires notice of the charges and an opportunity to be heard.” What also is required, however, is that the appointing authority made a diligent effort to contact the employee to inform him or her that the disciplinary hearing had been scheduled and would take place even if the individual fails to appear and participate.**

Click HERE to access a New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings [OATH] Administrative Law Judge's decision that involved conducting a disciplinary hearing in absentia.

* Many Local Civil Service Commissions and Civil Service Law §15 Personnel Officers have adopted rules or regulations similar to those set out in 4 NYCCR 5.3 applicable to employees in the Classified Service in their respective jurisdictions.

** Mari v Safir, 291 AD2d 298, sets out the general standards applied by the courts in resolving litigation flowing from the appointing authority conducting a disciplinary hearing in absentia.


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.