Disciplinary penalty reduced by court

Disciplinary penalty reduced by courtCatena v Village of Southampton, App. Div., 289 A.D.2d 487 The Village of Southampton dismissed Jeffrey Catena from his position as maintenance mechanic. Although Catena admitted his guilt, he appealed, contending that the penalty of dismissal was too harsh under the circumstances. As a result Catena won a court order directing his reinstatement to his former position. In addition, the Supreme Court justice directed that Catena be given 60 days back pay and benefits. The Village appealed, contesting only that portion of the court's ruling requiring it to pay Catena 60 days of back pay. The Appellate Division modified the back pay award, holding that the Village only had to pay Catena 30 days of back pay. The Appellate Division said although Catena had admitted his guilt, which was supported by substantial evidence, "under all of the circumstances, the penalty of dismissal was so disproportionate to the offense committed as to be shocking to one's sense of fairness" citing Pell v Board of Education, 34 NY2d 222. In modifying the disciplinary penalty, the Appellate Division commented the Catena had 10 years of satisfactory service with the Village and his misconduct was an isolated event. The Village apparently agreed that dismissal was too harsh a penalty, as it did not appeal that portion of the Supreme Court's decision directing it to reinstate Catena to his former position. Accordingly, said the court, Supreme Court properly granted the petition reinstating Catena. But the Supreme Court was incorrect when it awarded Catena 60 days back pay and benefits. Apparently the Supreme Court based this award on its belief that Catena was suspended for 60 days without pay or benefits. The record indicated that Catena was actually suspended without pay for a period of only 30 days. The Appellate Division ruled that under the circumstances, his suspension for 30 days without pay or benefits is an appropriate penalty.

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