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New York civil service job defense attorneyIn New York, civil service employees who are subject to disciplinary action based on the outcome of a hearing have options to appeal the action if they believe it to have been issued in error. One such option, outlined in Article 78 of the New York Civil Practice Law & Rules, is to file a proceeding against the body or officer who issued the decision. Appeals of this nature are heard in New York Supreme Court, and it is important for an employee to be represented by an experienced attorney who understands how the process works and how to achieve a successful outcome.

When Can an Appeal Be Heard in New York Supreme Court?

If you need to appeal a disciplinary action, it is important to determine the venue through which you should proceed. In some cases, it may be best to take your appeal before the New York Civil Service Commission (CSC). However, the time frame for filing an appeal with the CSC is only 20 days after the disciplinary decision is issued. If this deadline has passed, or if the CSC has declined to hear your appeal, you can instead bring your case before the Supreme Court. You have significantly more time to initiate this process: up to 120 days from the date of the disciplinary action.

What Happens During an Appeal to the Supreme Court?

Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law & Rules allows a petitioner to appeal a variety of actions of public officers, bodies, and agencies. However, of greatest relevance to employee discipline cases is the ability to appeal a determination made at a hearing on the grounds that it was made in error, in violation of procedure, or without sufficient evidence. Employees can also appeal on the grounds that the disciplinary action constitutes abuse or an overstep on the part of the hearing officer.

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NYC civil sevice employee discipline defense attorneyIf you are facing disciplinary action for alleged misconduct related to your civil service job, the question of your guilt and any appropriate penalties will be determined at a hearing where you and your attorney have the opportunity to present evidence in your defense. However, the outcome of this hearing does not always signify the end of the process. If you believe that the hearing or the decision was handled incorrectly or unfairly, you have the option to request an appeal.

Grounds for an Appeal

In order for an appeal to have merit, you must be able to demonstrate some manner of impropriety in the initial hearing. For example, you may make the case that the hearing did not follow the appropriate procedure under New York Civil Service Law, that the decision was issued based on insufficient or unreliable evidence, or that the penalties assessed were more severe than your actions merited. Your attorney can advise you as to whether you have a substantial case for an appeal.

How Does the Appeal Work?

In some cases, a civil service employee can appeal a decision by filing a proceeding against the public body or officer who issued the decision under the terms of Article 78 of New York’s Civil Practice Law & Rules. These cases are handled in the New York State Supreme Court. However, Section 76 of the New York Civil Service code also allows employees to pursue an appeal through the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

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New York City employment defense lawyerIn 2020, social media is a regular part of life for most Americans, and some even use it to perform work-related activities. However, social media activity can also often be a source of conflict between employers and employees, and in some cases it can lead to employee discipline or even termination. If you are facing discipline from your employer due to your social media use, an employment defense attorney can help you understand your rights.

Policies and Laws Regarding Employee Social Media Use

Due to the increased prevalence of social media, many employers now have social media and electronic communication policies that address issues including social media use during work hours, content that employees may or may not share on social media, and the monitoring of work email and other activities on work-issued electronic devices. If your employer has such a policy, you may have been asked to agree to it at the time you were hired or when the policy was created. This consent is a crucial component in justifying an employer’s discipline of an employee for any social media activity that may violate the policy.

However, there are some situations in which the legality of disciplining an employee for social media use may be called into question. For example, federal laws like the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) and the Stored Communications Act (SCA) provide protections from the interception of or access to electronic communications without the sender’s consent, such as in cases in which access was acquired surreptitiously or through the use of force. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) also protects employees from discrimination for using social media for the purposes of collective bargaining, and appeals court rulings have held that employee communication with legal counsel may also be protected from employer surveillance.

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New York civil service employee defense lawyerAs a civil service or public sector employee, your job security may be under serious threat if you are the subject of an employer investigation related to possible disciplinary action. If you are not careful, the way that you respond to an investigation can negatively affect your ability to contest disciplinary charges that your employer issues, and it may even put you at risk of a criminal conviction. It is important to know that you have rights when you are under investigation, and a civil service defense attorney can help you protect them.

Garrity and Weingarten Rights

The rights of public sector employees when under investigation have been secured in large part by two cases argued before the United States Supreme Court. One case, Garrity v. New Jersey, confirmed that public employees are protected from forced self-incrimination. This means that if an employee is under investigation for a potential work violation that could also be considered a criminal offense, the employer cannot threaten the employee with disciplinary action or termination to compel the employee to respond in a way that could be used against him or her in criminal proceedings. As an employee, it is important for you to assert your Garrity rights verbally when under questioning to ensure that your responses can only be used in disciplinary proceedings regarding your employment.

Another case, NLRB v. Weingarten, Inc., confirmed that civil service employees have the right to representation during an investigative interview, when asked for a written statement as part of a disciplinary investigation, or in any situation in which the employee believes that responding to the employer’s questions could have disciplinary implications. This means that you can request the presence of a union representative before answering any questions, and you can also consult privately with that representative before continuing the conversation with your employer.

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New York City employee defense attorneyAccording to the New York Human Rights Law, an employee cannot be discriminated against for a physical or mental disability, and employers have a duty to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities whenever possible. That said, what is considered a reasonable accommodation can vary depending on the situation. If you believe you are entitled to an accommodation that your employer is not providing, or if you are facing a medical separation because of a disability, an employment attorney can help you understand your rights and take legal action to secure them.

Who Can Request Reasonable Accommodations in New York?

As long as you are qualified for the position you hold or hope to obtain, and you are capable of performing the essential job responsibilities, you have the right to request reasonable accommodations for a disability so that you can complete your work tasks.

In this context, New York law defines a disability as any physical, mental, or medical impairment that affects bodily functions or can be demonstrated by accepted medical techniques. This can include both temporary and permanent conditions, and it may include alcohol or drug addiction if you are in recovery and not currently using illegal drugs. Since 2016, pregnancy-related conditions can also be a justification for reasonable accommodations.

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