New York Labor And Employment Law Report

New York Labor And Employment Law Report

Category Archives: Public Employment

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Supreme Court Tie Means That Public Sector Agency Shop Fees Are Still Lawful

Posted in Public Employment
On March 29, 2016, the Supreme Court issued a one sentence opinion in the highly publicized case of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, stating “[t]he judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court.”  This outcome was not unexpected after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia left the Supreme Court with eight remaining Justices.  This… Continue Reading

How Will Justice Scalia’s Death Impact the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association Case?

Posted in Public Employment
As we reported in a prior blog post, there is a case currently in front of the U.S. Supreme Court (Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association) in which the mandatory payment of union agency shop fees by public sector employees is being challenged as unconstitutional.  Oral argument in the case was heard by the Supreme Court on January 11,… Continue Reading

Governor Cuomo Signs Bill Amending Public Employee Whistle Blower Protection Statute

Posted in Public Employment, Retaliation, Whistleblowers
On December 28, 2015, Governor Cuomo signed a bill repealing Civil Service Law § 75-b(2)(b).  This has a significant effect on the anti-retaliation provisions of New York’s “whistle blower” protection statute for public employees who report to a governmental body either (a) violations of a law, rule or regulation, or (b) something which an employee… Continue Reading

Lloyd Dobler’s View of Job Responsibilities Can’t Defeat Garcetti Defense

Posted in Public Employment
In the classic 1980’s comedy “Say Anything,” the iconic high school senior Lloyd Dobler articulates his career goals as follows: “I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career.  I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or… Continue Reading

Pending Supreme Court Case Could Affect Collection of Public Employee Union Agency Shop Fees

Posted in Public Employment
Recently, the United States Supreme Court commenced a new session with a docket full of interesting cases.  One case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, is of particular significance to those in the field of public sector labor law.  A decision in favor of the plaintiffs has the potential to affect the implementation and regulation of… Continue Reading

A Teacher’s Right to Access Student Records in a Disciplinary Proceeding is Not Absolute

Posted in Discharge and Discipline, Public Employment
As many school districts are aware, it is not uncommon for a district to receive a request to disclose allegedly relevant student records to a tenured teacher facing disciplinary charges in the context of an Education Law Section 3020-a proceeding.  However, as school districts are also aware, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects… Continue Reading

Court of Appeals Holds That Student Safety Concerns Outweighed Teachers’ Picketing Rights

Posted in Public Employment
On May 6, 2014, in Santer v. Board of Education of East Meadow Union Free School District, the New York Court of Appeals held that a school district did not violate the First Amendment by disciplining teachers who participated in a picketing demonstration, because the teachers’ right to engage in constitutionally protected speech was outweighed by the… Continue Reading

Court of Appeals Issues Decision Regarding Vesting of School District Retiree Health Insurance Benefits

Posted in Employee Benefits, Public Employment
On December 12, 2013, the New York Court of Appeals issued a decision in Kolbe v. Tibbetts, in which the Court addressed whether the Newfane Central School District could unilaterally alter the health insurance benefits of certain retirees of the District.  The Court held that the retirees had a vested right to the same health insurance coverage… Continue Reading

New York Appellate Court Permits Interlocutory Appeal From Arbitrator’s Dismissal of Disciplinary Charge

Posted in Arbitration, Public Employment
A recent decision issued by the Appellate Division, Second Department, in Matter of Board of Education of Hauppauge Union Free School District v. Hogan, provides a valuable reminder to school districts and other public employers that an arbitrator’s interlocutory ruling in a disciplinary proceeding against an employee may not really be an interlocutory ruling at all, and in… Continue Reading

New York Court of Appeals Affirms Appellate Court’s Holding That Retirement Plan Contribution Dispute Was Not Arbitrable

Posted in Arbitration, Labor Relations, Public Employment
In a recent decision of statewide applicability to public employers with unionized members of the Police and Fire Retirement System (“PFRS”), the New York Court of Appeals (“Court”) addressed the issue of whether the City of Yonkers’ refusal to pay or reimburse new employees for their statutorily-required Tier V pension contributions was arbitrable.  In City… Continue Reading

“Equal Pay for Equal Work”: Is the Policy Set Forth in Civil Service Law Section 115 Enforceable in Court?

Posted in Public Employment
Civil Service Law Section 115, entitled "Policy of the state," provides that "it is hereby declared to be the policy of the state to provide equal pay for equal work, and regular increases in pay in proper proportion to increase of ability, increase of output and increase of quality of work demonstrated in service."  Is… Continue Reading

State’s Highest Court Distinguishes “Critical Evaluation” From “Reprimand” For Purposes of Public Employee Due Process Rights

Posted in Public Employment
Although public employers may be aware of their obligation to provide certain types of employees with an opportunity for a hearing prior to imposing discipline (such as a written reprimand), the line between a non-disciplinary counseling memorandum and a disciplinary reprimand is not always clear.  The New York State Court of Appeals’ recent decision in… Continue Reading

The New York Court of Appeals Weighs In — Again — on Police Discipline

Posted in Public Employment
The New York Court of Appeals recently found that a municipality’s unique and local interest in maintaining strong disciplinary authority over its police force outweighs the policy of the State to support public employees’ collective bargaining rights.  This means that critical issues involving the manner in which police disciplinary investigations, charges, and hearings are conducted… Continue Reading

Second Circuit Court of Appeals Rejects Employee’s First Amendment Retaliation Claim Against School District

Posted in Discharge and Discipline, Public Employment, Retaliation
On September 10, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed a 2010 District Court decision and rejected a claim by a terminated public school district employee that she was subjected to retaliation for engaging in protected speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  In Ross v. Lichtenfeld, the Second Circuit held… Continue Reading

An Elected Official’s Desire to Exercise First Amendment Rights Can Prove Costly

Posted in Public Employment
One would think that an elected official would be free, if not obligated, to express his/her opinions on a matter of public interest without fear of financial repercussion.  Sometimes, though, as the decision in Matter of Lancaster v. Incorporated Village of Freeport teaches us, the exercise of such freedom may come with a cost.… Continue Reading

New York Appellate Court Holds That Retirement Plan Contribution Dispute Was Not Arbitrable

Posted in Arbitration, Labor Relations, Public Employment
In a recent decision that will likely have positive implications for similarly-situated public employers across New York State, the Appellate Division for the Second Department reversed a lower court ruling and held that the City of Yonkers’ refusal to reimburse new employees for their statutorily-required Tier V retirement plan contributions was not arbitrable.  The appellate court… Continue Reading

New York’s Highest Court Holds That “No Layoff” Clause in Public Employer’s Collective Bargaining Agreement is Not Arbitrable

Posted in Arbitration, Labor Relations, Public Employment
New York’s highest court recently ruled that a provision in the collective bargaining agreement between the Village of Johnson City and its firefighters’ union which states that the Village will not "lay-off any member of the bargaining unit during the term of this contract" is not explicit enough to prevent the Village from abolishing the positions of six firefighters… Continue Reading

New York Court of Appeals Extends Procedural Protections to Public Employees Returning from Voluntary Medical Leave

Posted in Public Employment
As all public employers are aware, Section 72 of the New York Civil Service Law ("Section 72") provides both the procedure for placing a public employee on an involuntary leave when he or she is deemed unfit to perform his or her job due to illness or injury, and certain procedural protections to employees who… Continue Reading

New York Legislature Amends General Municipal Law to Enable More Municipalities to Recover Police Officer Training Expenses

Posted in Public Employment
In a little-recognized effort to generate “mandate relief” associated with its recently-enacted “Tax Cap,” the New York Legislature amended General Municipal Law (“GML”) § 72-c to enable more municipalities to recover expenses related to the initial training of their police and peace officers in the event that such officers decide to transfer to another municipality… Continue Reading