Are employees required to file a written answer to Section 75 disciplinary charges?

Are employees required to file a written answer to Section 75 disciplinary charges?A NYPPL analysis Section 75.2 provides that the appointing officer must allow the accused employee at least eight days to file his or her answer to disciplinary charges in writing.* From time to time a NYPPL reader will ask "If an individual does not file an answer to Section 75 charges and specifications that have been served on the individual, may his or her silence be deemed an admission permitting the appointing authority to impose the proposed disciplinary penalty without holding a disciplinary hearing?" A close reading of Section 75 suggests that an employer's deeming an employee's failure to file an answer to Section 75 disciplinary charges an admission of the employee's guilt would not survive judicial review. Section 75 does not require that the employee submit an answer to disciplinary charges in contrast to its mandate that the appointing authority allow the individual at least eight days to file an answer to the disciplinary charges. Accordingly, it appears that the accused individual may remain silent and appear at the hearing without having submitted any answer to the charges without jeopardizing his or her right to administrative due process. Furthermore, Section 75.2, in pertinent part, places "the burden of proving incompetency, and, or misconduct shall be upon the person alleging the same." In other words, the failure of an employee to offer an explanation or a defense does not absolve the employer of its obligation to prove the charges of incompetency, and, or misconduct served on an employee in an administrative hearing before imposing disciplinary sanctions. It is well-settled that in the event the employee fails to appear at the disciplinary hearing, the charging party must proceed and actually hold a hearing in absentia rather then to merely proceed to impose a penalty on the individual simply because of his or her failure to appear at the hearing as scheduled [see Mari v. Safir, 291 AD2d 298, leave to appeal denied, 98 NY2d 613]. Further, the charging party must prove its case by presenting substantial evidence of the employee's guilt in the course of the hearing. Given the fact that the courts require employers to conduct a hearing if an employee fails to appear at the disciplinary hearing, it seems unlikely that the courts would approve imposing a penalty on an individual without holding a hearing simply because he or she failed to "answer" the charges. Moreover, Section 75 does not require an employee to ask for a hearing — it is to be provided as a matter of right. Section 75 also requires that a transcript of the hearing be provided to the employee free of charge. N.B. In contrast, Section 3020-a(2) of the Education Law, the statutory equivalent of Section 75 for teachers and school administrators, requires the individual request a hearing within 10 days after being served disciplinary charges [see Education Law Section 3020-a(2), subdivisions (c) and (d)]. The individual's unexcused failure to request such a hearing permits the appointing authority to impose the proposed penalty without holding a disciplinary hearing. Most alternative disciplinary procedures negotiated pursuant to the Taylor Law follow the Section 3020-a model. Typically, if the employee fails to file a timely "disciplinary grievance," the collective bargaining agreement usually authorizes the appointing authority to impose the penalty proposed in the "notice of discipline" served on the individual without further action on its part and without referring the matter to arbitration. * Section 75.2, in pertinent part, provides: "A person against whom removal or other disciplinary action is proposed shall have written notice thereof and of the reasons therefor, shall be furnished a copy of the charges preferred against him and shall be allowed at least eight days for answering the same in writing." ===============================If you are interested in learning more about disciplinary procedures involving public officers and employees, please click here: http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/ ================================

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