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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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