Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Appellate Division affirming the judgment of Supreme Court holding that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) violated section 71 of the Civil Service Law by refusing to reinstate Petitioner to her labor class caretaker position after terminating her, holding that Petitioner did not fall with the ambit of N.Y. Civ. Serv. Law 71, a provision governing reinstatement of public sector employees injured on the job. Petitioner's petition fell within the "labor class" - one of four classifications under New York's Civil Service Law - which includes "all unskilled laborers" in the State's service. NYCHA terminated Petitioner after she missed more than one year of work due to a disability. Petitioner requested reinstatement, but NYCHA refused. Petitioner then filed this action. Supreme Court granted the petition as against NYCHA, concluding that the plain language of section 71 did not exclude labor class employees. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that NYCHA did not violate section 71 when it refused to reinstate Petitioner. View "Jordan v. New York City Housing Authority" on Justia Law

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In these joint appeals from putative class actions, the Supreme Court reversed the orders of the Appellate Division rejecting the New York State Department of Labor's (DOL) interpretation of the DOL's Miscellaneous Industries and Occupations Minimum Wage Order (Wage Order), holding that DOL's interpretation of its Wage Order did not conflict with the promulgated language, nor did DOL adopt on irrational or unreasonable construction. Under the Wage Order, an employer must pay its home health care aid employees for each hour of a twenty-four-hour shift. At issue in this case was DOL's interpretation of its Wage Order to require payment for at least thirteen hours of a twenty-four-hour shift if the employee is allowed a sleep break of at least eight hours and actually receives five hours of uninterrupted sleep and three hours of meal break time. Supreme Court refused to adopt DOL's interpretation and determined that class certification was appropriate. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that DOL's interpretation was neither rational nor reasonable because it conflicted with the plain language of the Wage Order. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Appellate Division failed to afford adequate deference to DOL's interpretation of the Wage Order. View "Andryeyeva v. New York Health Care, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Appellate Division affirming the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Board that Claimant was entitled to 275 weeks of additional compensation due to an arm he received during the course of his employment under Workers’ Compensation Law WCL 15(3)(v) (paragraph v), holding that awards for additional compensation are not subject to the durational limits contained in WCL 15(3)(w) (paragraph w). Paragraph v permits certain permanently partially disabled workers who have exhausted their schedule awards to apply for additional compensation. Claimant did just that and was awarded additional compensation. On appeal, Claimant argued that paragraph v incorporates only paragraph w’s formula for calculating the weekly payment amount and not paragraph w’s durational component setting forth the number of weeks that sum is paid. The Court of Appeals disagreed and affirmed, holding that under the plain language of paragraph v, additional compensation awards are calculated pursuant to the formula and durational provisions of paragraph w. View "Mancini v. Services" on Justia Law

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In this case concerning the interpretation of New York’s constitutional prevailing wage requirement, the Court of Appeals upheld the New York State Department of Labor’s statute-based policy limiting the payment of apprentice wages on public work projects to apprentices who are performing tasks within the respective trade classifications of the approved apprenticeship programs in which they are enrolled, holding that the Department’s interpretation of the relevant statute was rational. Plaintiffs brought this declaratory judgment action asserting that the Department’s interpretation of N.Y. Labor Law 220(3-3) violates the plain meaning of the law and that the statute permits contractors on public works to pay apprentices the posted apprentice rates provided that they are registered in any Department-certified apprenticeship program. Supreme Court granted summary judgment for Defendants, concluding that the Department’s analysis was an arbitrary and irrational interpretation of the statute. The Appellate Division reversed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Department’s interpretation of the statute was eminently reasonable. View "International Union of Painters & Allied Trades, District Council No. 4 v. New York State Department of Labor" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the conclusion of the courts below that the finding of the Nassau County Police Officer Indemnification Board that Petitioner’s conduct was not “proper” within the meaning of N.Y. Gen. Mun. Law 50-1 was rational. Petitioner, a Nassau County police officer, commenced this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding seeking a judgment annulling the determination of the Nassau County Police Officer Indemnification Board revoking a prior defense and indemnification determination in favor of Petitioner. At issue was whether Petitioner’s conduct was “proper” under N.Y. Gen. Mun. Law 50-1, which provides for defense and indemnification of Nassau County police officers in civil actions arising out of “a negligent act or other tort of such police officer committed while in the proper discharge” of the officer’s duties and within the scope of the officer’s employment. Supreme Court denied Petitioner’s petition, concluding that the Board rationally concluded that Petitioner’s conduct was not proper. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the Board’s determination that Petitioner’s conduct was not in the “proper discharge of his duties” was not arbitrary and capricious. View "Lemma v. Nassau County Police Officer Indemnification Board" on Justia Law

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A court must offset a retired New York City police officer’s projected accident disability retirement (ADR) benefits against the injured retiree’s jury award for both future lost earnings and pension. Plaintiff, a retired police officer who was injured on duty, filed a personal injury action against Defendants. The jury found Defendants responsible for the accident and awarded Plaintiff a set amount for past and future lost earnings and future loss of pension. Defendants moved to offset the jury award pursuant to N.Y. C.P.L.R. 4545, which permits a court to find that certain awarded damages will, with a reasonable certainty, be replaced or indemnified from a collateral source. Supreme Court denied the motion. The Appellate Division granted Defendants’ motion to offset the award for future pension benefits by the total amount of Plaintiff’s projected ADR benefits and otherwise affirmed Supreme Court’s denial of an offset for Plaintiff’s future lost earnings. The Court of Appeals affirmed as modified, holding (1) the Appellate Division erred in holding that ADR benefits could not be offset against lost earnings and incorrectly applied the entire amount of Plaintiff’s projected ADR benefits against the future lost pension; and (2) therefore, recalculation of the offset to future lost earnings and pension is warranted. View "Andino v. Mills" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether two first responders (together, Petitioners) established that they were entitled to accidental disability retirement benefits by demonstrating that they were incapacitated as the natural and proximate result of an accident sustained in service. The Comptroller in these two consolidated cases determined that Petitioners were not injured in an “accident” within the meaning of N.Y. Retire. & Soc. Sec. Law 363. The Court of Appeals held that substantial evidence supported the Comptroller’s determinations that neither petitioner was injured as the result of an “accident” because there were no precipitating accidental events that were not a risk of the work performed. View "Kelly v. DiNapoli" on Justia Law

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Equitable apportionment ensuring that employers’ insurance carriers pay their equitable share of litigation expenses incurred by injured workers who obtain recoveries from a third-party tortfeasor should not turn solely on the label given to a claimant’s award but must take into account the certainty of the award at the time a third-party matter is resolved. In this case a third-party settlement was consummated before a workers’ compensation award was determined. The Workers’ Compensation Board misinterpreted the Court of Appeals’ precedents as requiring that litigation costs apportioned against all schedule loss of use awards be either assigned at the time of the third-party settlement or not at all. The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division concluding that the award of workers’ compensation benefits was of a type the Court of Appeals had indicated had an ascertainable present value, and therefore, the claimant was not entitled to a post-settlement apportionment of the litigation expenses contemplated for other types of awards. View "Terranova v. Lehr Construction Co." on Justia Law

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The State’s contribution to health insurance benefits for State employees, including members of the State judiciary, is not judicial compensation protected from direct diminution by the Judicial Compensation Clause of the State Constitution, and the reductions in contributions do not have the effect of singling out the judiciary for disadvantageous treatment. Plaintiffs, Supreme Court Justices and others, filed suit against the State seeking a declaratory judgment that newly amended N.Y. Civ. Serv. Law 167(8), which authorizes reduction in contributions towards health insurance premiums, violates the Compensation Clause of the State Constitution. Supreme Court denied the State’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that compensation includes health insurance benefits and that the decree in the State’s contribution level discriminated against judges. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that a contribution to health care premiums is not compensation within the context of the Compensation Clause, and the change in State contributions does not jeopardize the independence of the judiciary. View "Bransten v. State" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division, granted the petition of the City of Schenecatdy, and annulled the determination of the New York State Public Employment Relations Board, which determined that the City committed an improper employer practice by enacting General Order 0-43. The general order adopted new police disciplinary procedures that differed from those contained in the parties’ expired collective bargaining agreement. Supreme Court dismissed the City’s petition, concluding that N.Y. Civ. Serv. Law 14 (the Taylor Law) superseded the provisions of the Second Class Cities Law regarding police discipline. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals disagreed with the lower courts, holding that the relevant provisions of the Second Class Cities Law were not superseded by the enactment of the Taylor Law, and therefore, police discipline is a prohibited subject of bargaining in the City of Schenectady. View "City of Schenectady v. New York State Public Employment Relations Board" on Justia Law