April 19, 2022 Recent Decisions on Terminating Employees Receiving Benefits Pursuant to General Municipal Law § 207-c
KEEPING YOU INFORMED…
We are writing to inform you of two recently issued Appellate Division decisions upholding the disciplinary termination of two police officers who were receiving benefits pursuant to General Municipal Law § 207-c. In 2017, the Town of Southold preferred disciplinary charges against two police officers who had been absent on Section 207-c for several years and whose medical records demonstrated that the officers would be unable to return to work. The officers were charged with incompetence due to excessive absenteeism as a result of being physically unable to perform their duties on their scheduled workdays. The hearing officer found the officers guilty of the charges and recommended termination. The Town implemented those recommendations, and the officers appealed. The Appellate Division, Second Department, upheld the terminations. See Matter of Hunstein v. Town of Southold, 2018-08103 (April 13, 2022); Matter of Wysocki v. Town of Southold, 2018-12272 (April 13, 2022).
These decisions have, for the first time, confirmed that a municipality is permitted to file disciplinary charges and terminate police officers who are receiving § 207-c benefits on the basis that they are incompetent due to excessive absenteeism. They have also confirmed that a municipality has no obligation to separate these employees pursuant to Civil Service Law § 71. We believe these decisions would also apply to employees receiving Section 207-a benefits. While a termination has no impact on an officer’s eligibility for Section 207-c benefits, separating them from service allows municipalities to fill their positions with individuals who are able to work.
If you have any questions regarding the Hunstein and Wysocki decisions or their impact on your workforce, please contact Richard Zuckerman at firstname.lastname@example.org or Alyson Mathews at email@example.com.
THIS MEMORANDUM IS MEANT TO ASSIST IN GENERAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE CURRENT LAW. IT IS NOT TO BE REGARDED AS LEGAL ADVICE. THOSE WITH PARTICULAR QUESTIONS SHOULD SEEK THE ADVICE OF COUNSEL.
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