Employee's dismissal after refusing to participate in a counseling program held reasonable under the circumstances

Employee's dismissal after refusing to participate in a counseling program held reasonable under the circumstancesSiciliano v Safir, 259 AD2d 366 Matthew Siciliano, a New York City police officer, was dismissed from his position after he refused to enter the department's counseling program. Siciliano had been given at least four direct orders to do so within six months. Siciliano claimed that his refusal to participate in the program (1) "was based upon his good faith reliance on his private psychiatrist's advice that such would be harmful to his mental health," and (2) that the Department had never explicitly warned him that he faced termination if he continued to disobey such orders. The hearing officer concluded that Siciliano's "proof concerning his precarious mental condition" tended to support rather than undermine his unfitness to serve. Further, the hearing officer noted, Siciliano was suspended after each time he disobeyed the order to participate in counseling, and "that should have made it clear to petitioner that continued disobedience would not be tolerated indefinitely." The Appellate Division said that Siciliano was found guilty of charges that "are serious, involving [the] Department's requirements for order, authority and discipline." It ruled that the department's determination to dismiss Siciliano is entitled to "great leeway." Commenting that the penalty imposed did not shock its sense of fairness, the Court dismissed Siciliano's appeal. NYPPL

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