Articles Posted in Labor & Employment 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

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The Court of Appeals answered three questions certified to it by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit regarding who may be liable under the New York State Human Rights Law. Plaintiffs sued Astro Moving and Storage Co., Allied Van Lines, and Sirva, Inc. after Astro fired them upon discovering their convictions for sexual offenses against young children. Astro performed moving services for Allied, and Allied was a subsidiary of Sirva, Inc. The Court of Appeals answered (1) section 296(15) of the New York State Human Rights Law, which prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of a criminal conviction, limits liability to an aggrieved party’s “employer”; (2) common-law principles determine who may be liable as an employer under section 296(15), with the greatest emphasis placed on the alleged employer’s power “to order and control” the employee in his or her performance of work; and (3) section 296(6) of the New York State Human Rights Law, which provides for aiding and abetting liability, extends liability to an out-of-state nonemployer who aids or abets employment discrimination against individuals with a prior criminal conviction. View "Griffin v. Sirva, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was working as an employee of DCM Erectors at the 1 World Trade Center construction site when he received a workplace injury. Plaintiff commenced this action against the owner of the premises and the general contractor, alleging violations of N.Y. Labor Law 240(1) and 241(6). Supreme Court denied the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment on Plaintiff’s section 240(1) claim but granted Plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment on the section 241(6) claim. The Appellate Division modified the order by granting Plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment on the section 240(1) claim and denying Plaintiff summary judgment on the section 241(6) claim. The Court of Appeals modified the order of the Appellate Division by denying Plaintiff’s motion insofar as it sought summary judgment not he issue of liability on his section 240(1) claim, holding that there were triable issues of fact that precluded summary judgment. View "O'Brien v. Port Authority of New York & New Jersey" on Justia Law

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Claimant, a former police officer employed by the City of Buffalo, alleged that exposure to asbestos occurred during his employment, later leading to his diagnosis of mesothelioma. Claimant and his wife commenced this proceeding seeking permission to serve a late notice of claim on the City. The City argued, in opposition, that leave should be denied because N.Y. Gen. Mun. Law 207-c provides the exclusive remedy for the alleged work-related remedies. The Appellate Division denied the application. At issue on appeal was whether a police officer who is entitled to receive benefits under section 207-c for a duty-related injury is barred from bringing a claim against his or her employer under N.Y. Gen. Mun. Law 205-e. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that section 205-e does not bar a lawsuit by a police officer who suffers a line-of-duty injury caused by the employer’s statutory or regulatory violations when that police officer is employed by a municipality that has elected not to provide coverage pursuant to the Workers’ Compensation Law. View "Diegelman v. City of Buffalo" on Justia Law

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In Matter of Maron v. Silver, the Supreme Court concluded that the Legislature’s and Governor’s practice of directly and explicitly tying consideration of judicial compensation to unrelated policy initiatives - called linkage - during years 2006 through 2008 violated the separation of powers doctrine. As a result of the Court’s decision, the Legislature passed, and the Governor signed, legislation establishing the Independent Commission on Judicial Compensation, by which the issue of judicial compensation now receives consideration independent of other political matters. In the instant case, Plaintiffs, current and retired judges and justices, sought an award of money damages to remedy the constitutional violation that led to the court’s decision in Matter of Maron. The Appellate Division denied relief. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that neither Matter of Maron nor any other authority permitted the Court to grant monetary relief to Plaintiffs in this case. View "Larabee v. Governor of State of N.Y." on Justia Law