Articles Posted in Labor & Employment 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

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Sections 8-102(16)(c) and 8-107(1)(a) of the New York City Administrative Code preclude a plaintiff from bringing a disability discrimination claim based solely on a perception of untreated alcoholism. Plaintiffs, officers with the New York City Police Department, were referred to the internal counseling services unit of that police force (CSU) for assistance with their purported alcohol abuse. The CSU determined that each plaintiff suffered from alcoholism. The parties now agree that Plaintiffs were not actually alcoholics. Plaintiffs brought this action alleging that Defendants discriminated against them by subjecting them to adverse employment actions based on the mistakenly perceived disability of alcoholism. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiffs pursuant to the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL). Defendants appealed. In answer to a question certified to it by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the Court of Appeals held that the Administrative Code does not consider a mistaken perception of alcoholism to be a disability covered by the NYCHRL. View "Makinen v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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A city-employer's failure to provide information to a union for the purposes of representing nurse-employees in their disciplinary proceedings was improper. Two members of the New York State Nurses Association (the Union) employed by New York City’s Human Resources Administration (HRA) were served with disciplinary charges. The Union requested information from HRA for the purposes of representing the employees in their disciplinary proceedings, but the City refused to provide any of the requested information. After it was recommended that the nurses’ employment be terminated, the Union filed an improper practice action alleging that the HRA’s failure to provide the requested information violated New York City Collective Bargaining Law 12-306(c)(4). The Board of Collective Bargaining of the City of New York found that it was an improper practice for the City to refuse to respond to a large portion of the information requests. Supreme Court annulled the Board’s determination, concluding that the Board improperly extended the right to obtain information for grievances pursuant to contract administration to disciplinary proceedings. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that the Board’s decision had a rational basis. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the City was required to furnish the information specified by the Board. View "City of New York v. New York State Nurses Ass’n" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that an administrative notice declaring that the policy of the Administrative Board of the Courts of the State of New York henceforth would be that no judge certificated for service as a Justice of the Supreme Court may receive, concurrent with a salary for such service, a retirement allowance for prior judicial service within the United Court System, is not contrary to law or constitutional mandate raised by Plaintiffs. In so holding, the Court reversed the decision of the Appellate Division - which declared that the Board’s administrative order violated the New York Constitution, the Judiciary Law, and the Retirement and Social Security Law - and reinstated the judgment of Supreme Court. View "Loehr v. Administrative Board of the Courts of the State of New York" on Justia Law