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Procedures Used in Civil Service Employee Disciplinary Investigations

 Posted on October 20, 2022 in Civil Service Employment and Job Defense

new york civil service discipline lawyerIn New York, civil service employees have certain rights and protections that will allow them to continue working in their positions. However, there may be situations where civil service employees may face discipline due to allegations of misconduct, which may involve issues such as abuse of authority, corruption, dishonesty, favoritism, misuse of a person's position, and potential conflicts of interest. Employees may also face discipline due to incompetence, such as repeated errors made while working or an inability to properly perform the duties of a position.

If a supervisor or another party believes that discipline is warranted, disciplinary charges may be pursued against an employee, and a disciplinary hearing may be held to determine what forms of discipline may be appropriate. However, before a case reaches this point, investigations will usually be performed to gather evidence related to the alleged misconduct or incompetence. The purpose of these investigations is to gain sufficient information to determine whether disciplinary action should be taken. In some cases, the evidence may be clear, and the decision to discipline the employee may be straightforward. However, in other cases, the evidence may be less clear, or there may be extenuating circumstances that will affect the case. Civil service employees will need to understand the procedures that may be followed during these investigations and the steps they can take to defend themselves against potential discipline.

Actions Taken Prior to Initiating Disciplinary Proceedings

Civil service employees are entitled to due process during a disciplinary investigation. Employers are required to follow the correct procedures to ensure that employees fully understand the rules and policies that apply to them and the forms of discipline they can expect if they commit violations. An employer will need to provide evidence showing that an employee engaged in misconduct or is incompetent. During an investigation, multiple types of records may be gathered, including personnel records, reports related to employee reviews or reprimands, and email communications with an employee.

Prior to initiating formal disciplinary proceedings, employers are encouraged to communicate with an employee, discuss any incidents or complaints, and provide notice regarding unacceptable conduct. While conferences or counseling are not legally required, and they are not considered to be a form of discipline, they may be used to ensure that an employee is informed of the expectations that apply to them.

Employers may also consider reassigning an employee as needed. This may include moving them to a different location or making adjustments to their duties. This may be an option in situations where misconduct or incompetence is related to conflicts with other employees. Reassignment may allow a situation to be resolved without the need to remove an employee from their position and hire and train a replacement.

Once a formal investigation begins, an employer may use multiple methods to gather information about a case and determine whether misconduct occurred or whether an employee has exhibited incompetence. Investigative interviews with an employee, coworkers, or others may be conducted, and during these interviews, an employee has the right to be represented by legal counsel. 

Medical examinations may also be requested to determine whether an employee has a physical or mental disability that affects their ability to perform work-related duties. In these cases, an employee will be required to submit to an examination at the employer's expense. The results of an examination may be considered during disciplinary hearings, but the existence of a disability on its own will not require disciplinary action to be postponed or abandoned.

Contact Our New York Civil Service Employee Disciplinary Investigation Attorney

During investigations, disciplinary hearings, and related proceedings, civil service employees have a right to due process, and they deserve to have their cases heard fairly. It is essential that the investigation be conducted in a fair and impartial manner. All too often, civil service employees are subjected to investigations that are biased or unfair. At The Law Firm of Gregory J. Watford, Esq., PLLC, we can provide representation for employees in these matters, ensuring that their rights will be protected and helping them avoid consequences that could affect their income and careers. Contact our New York City civil service employee discipline defense lawyer at 646-580-6675 to set up a confidential consultation and learn how we can assist with your case.


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