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New York City Civil Service Employee Defense Lawyer

Long Island Civil Service Employee Lawyer

Attorneys Defending Civil Service Employees in Discipline or Medical Separation Hearings in NYC

Tenured civil service employees in New York enjoy specific legal protections. For example, if your employer serves you with a notice of disciplinary charges, you are entitled to a due process hearing before any disciplinary action such as job suspension or termination can be taken.

If your civil service employer begins a disciplinary action against you, you need to know your rights in this process. While your union rep can be helpful, only a lawyer has the training to ensure that your legal rights are not violated. Having a lawyer at your side can also improve your chance of beating the charges and avoiding a severe penalty such as dismissal from your job.

At Watford Jackson, PLLC, we are deeply knowledgeable about the laws governing civil service employment as well as the union rules that apply to specific groups of public servants such as firefighters and law enforcement officers. You can be confident in hiring attorneys Gregory J. Watford and Joey Jackson, who have more than 40 years' combined experience in the practice of law in New York City. We have represented and defended many civil service employees in disciplinary actions, and we are fully dedicated to doing the same for you.

We help civil service employees in the New York City area with:

Definition of a Tenured Civil Service Employee in New York

Under Section 75 of the New York Civil Service Law, the definition of a "tenured" civil service employee includes:

  • Permanent full-time employees in the competitive class.
  • Permanent full-time employees in the non-competitive class (excluding confidential or policy-influencing positions) with at least five years of continuous service.
  • Permanent full-time employees in the labor class with at least five years of continuous service (effective September 7, 2018).
  • Permanent full-time employees in any class who is an honorably-discharged U.S. veteran of war.
  • Employees of a police department holding the position of detective for three years or more.
  • Employees of New York City with at least three years of continuous service in the position of Homemaker or Home Aide.

Rights of Tenured NY Civil Service Employees in Disciplinary Actions

Under Section 75, 75-b, and 76 of New York Civil Service Law, tenured civil service employees have the following rights in disciplinary proceedings. However, members of a union with grievance and arbitration procedures may choose to follow those procedures instead.

Right to timely action. A disciplinary proceeding may not be initiated more than 18 months after the alleged incompetence or misconduct occurs. This "statute of limitations" is just 12 months for an employee designated as managerial or confidential. However, if the charges constitute a crime, this time limit does not apply.

Right to be free from retaliation for whistle-blowing: A public employer may not take disciplinary action against an employee who informs appropriate authorities about a violation by the employer that presents a substantial and specific danger to public safety or who reports an unlawful act by the employer.

Right to representation during investigative questioning. A civil service employee has the right to have a union representative present during any questioning related to possible disciplinary action against said employee. Employees designated as managerial or confidential have the right to representation by an attorney.

Right to know charges in advance. If an employer intends to pursue disciplinary action, the employee must receive written notice of charges and proposed disciplinary action, along with the time and place for the hearing. The employee then has eight days to answer the charges in writing, but you can ask for a short extension if necessary. The employee is not required to deliver a written answer to the charges, nor is there any penalty for failing to do so.

Rights pending a hearing. After being notified of charges and while awaiting the outcome of the hearing, the employee may be suspended without pay for up to 30 days. If the disciplinary charges are related to an arrest, the employee may also be suspended for up to 30 days (excluding NYC Correction Officers who may be suspended indefinitely pursuant to the NYC Administrative Code §9-112). If the employee is found not guilty of all charges, the employee has the right to back pay for that period, less the amount of any unemployment benefits received.

Right to a hearing. A tenured civil service employee may not be dismissed or otherwise penalized unless a due process hearing finds the employee guilty of incompetency or misconduct.

The employee does not need to request a hearing, rather, a hearing will automatically be held unless this right is expressly waived by the employee in writing.

The employer is responsible for scheduling the hearing, which is mandatory, and bears the burden of proving incompetency or misconduct.

In a hearing, the employee has the right to be represented by their union representative and/or an attorney. The employee also has the right to testify and to summon witnesses to testify.

A hearing officer will make a record of the hearing and issue their recommendations on the charges. The hearing officer's decision is not, however, final. The employer will review the hearing officer's recommendations and make the final determination on the charges and penalties.

The possible penalties are defined by statute and include dismissal, demotion, suspension without pay, a fine, or an official letter of reprimand.

Option to negotiate a settlement without a hearing. The employer and employee, with the assistance of legal counsel, are free to enter into a written settlement agreement to resolve the disciplinary problem. This allows for a creative solution to the problem that would not be possible under the law that governs hearings. For example, the employer could agree to let the employee return to work for a period of time under a "performance improvement plan." If the employee does not meet the terms of that plan, the employee will be dismissed at the end of the probationary period without a hearing.

Right to appeal. A civil service employee found guilty of incompetence or misconduct may appeal the determination of guilt and any penalty imposed.

NYC Lawyers for Civil Service Job Hearings

If you need a lawyer to represent and defend you in a civil service investigation or hearing, contact the attorneys at Watford Jackson at 855-WAT-JACK or 855-928-5225. We have helped many civil service employees achieve positive outcomes in disciplinary action cases. We serve clients in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan and in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties. We Stand For You.

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101 Avenue of the Americas, 9th Floor
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