Contempt proceeding used to enforce a court order directing reinstatement

Contempt proceeding used to enforce a court order directing reinstatement
Angel Nunez v City of New York, 43 AD3d 808

Angel Nunez obtained a court order directing his reinstatement to his former position, or a comparable position, with the New York City Department of Sanitation, together with back pay and benefits [City of New York v New York State Div. of Human Rights, 229 AD2d 307, leave to appeal denied, 89 NY2d 801]. Sanitation, however, neither reinstated Nunez to his former position nor to an equivalent position.

Nunez then petitioned the court to compel his reinstatement. Supreme Court dismissed his petition to have the Department to reinstate him, ruling that he delayed too long in bringing his action and thus Nunez was guilty of laches 

The Appellate Division reverse the lower court’s ruling, noting that although Nunez, an attorney, had waited 15 months before bringing the matter to the attention of the court rather than seeking earlier judicial intervention, both he and the Department had contributed to the delay.

The Appellate Division said that Nunez’s recourse was to bring a contempt proceeding when the Department failed to comply with the order of the court. It said that it “was futile to insist that [Nunez] bring a new complaint with the Division of Human Rights before seeking enforcement.” It then converted Nunez’s action into a “contempt proceeding” and remanded the case to Supreme Court for a hearing.

The decision is posted on the Internet at: