Suspension without pay for 270 days disciplinary penalty
Is suspending a employee found guilty of a number of charges of misconduct without pay for 270 days lawful? After all, the Section 75 of the Civil Service Law limits such a suspension without pay for a period not to exceed two months.
The Appellate Division, Second Department, said it was appropriate under the circumstances and sustained a 270-day suspension without pay disciplinary penalty imposed by the appointing authority on an individual after he was found guilty of:
1. Two counts of engaging in conduct unbecoming an officer,
2. One count of using employer’s equipment other than in the course of official business,
3. Four counts of engaging in unlawful conduct,
4. Two counts of failing to treat as confidential the official business of the employer, and
5. One count of making or submitting, or causing to be submitted, a false official communication, record, or statement.
The Appellate Division said that the officer's guilt with respect to these charges was supported by substantial evidence in the record.
As to the nature of the penalty imposed, the court said that the Police Department's determination regarding appropriate internal discipline to be imposed is entitled to great deference and, "under the circumstances of this case, will not be disturbed."
Although 75 of the Civil Service Law limits the suspension without pay for a period of not to exceed two months, the Appellate Division, citing Coscette v Town of Wallkill, 281 AD2 479, ruled that the penalty of suspension without pay for 270 days was permissible pursuant to Civil Service Law 76(4) and Nassau County Administrative Code 8-13.0.
Section 75 provides, as alternative disciplinary penalties, suspension without pay for not to exceed two months, punishment consisting of either a reprimand; or a fine not to exceed $120; or demotion in grade and title; or dismissal. In contrast, an arbitrator setting a disciplinary penalty pursuant to a contract disciplinary procedure is usually authorized to impose an "appropriate penalty" and is not limited to those prescribed in a statute such as Section 75 of the Civil Service Law.
The decisions are posted on the Internet at:
[Leave to appeal denied, 3 N.Y.3d 611]