Civil Service Discrimination Law

You are a civil service worker. You had a hearing under Section 75 of the Civil Service Law and you were found guilty of the charges and specifications. But the real reason for the adverse action against you is discriminatory intent in bringing the charges, or there was discrimination involved in the basis of the finding against you. In that case, you still may have a chance of saving your job.

Section 75 of the Civil Service Law says you have to be given an administrative hearing if you are going to be fired. If the hearing judge finds that you are guilty of the charges and specifications and determines that you should be fired, and the agency commissioner affirms the finding, you can still go to court if you have been subjected to discrimination. 

The legal question is whether you are precluded, or prevented, from bringing a discrimination claim because you have already had your day in court at the administrative hearing. The answer is that you are not prevented from bringing a discrimination case if you did not raise the issue of discrimination at the administrative hearing. In fact, Section 75 of the Civil Service Law says that the hearing officer’s sole responsibility is to consider whether you have been incompetent or been guilty of the charges alleged against you. If those are the only issues involved in the decision to fire you, than you would have to bring an appeal to the Civil Service Commission or have the decision reviewed by New York State Courts in an Article 78 proceeding to determine whether there was substantial evidence for the finding against you or whether the penalty was too severe. 

But there may be other issues involved that the hearing officer did not decide, and so you can bring them up in a separate court proceeding. 

For example, you are terminated for absences in violation of your agency’s guidelines for a permissible number of absences, but you were entitled to a reasonable accommodation for leave because the reason for your absences was a disability. If the disability discrimination was not raised at the administrative hearing, you can still challenge the determination that you should be fired because you were subjected to disability discrimination. You will not be able, in a court proceeding that you may wish to bring based on discrimination, to contest that you violated your agency’s stated rules about how many days you can take off, but you will be able to assert a claim that the rules violated discrimination law, and that therefore your firing was illegal and you should be reinstated and awarded damages. 

Another example would be a situation where other employees engaged in the same conduct, but only you were disciplined because of your protective category - race, gender, age etc. That is, the reason that you were disciplined had more to do with your protected category than the fact that the misconduct alleged was deserving of punishment, since others not in your protected were not subject to discipline.

With over 25 years of experience in civil service law, and as a former Assistant Corporation Counsel in a labor law division of the Law Department of the City of New York, we will will represent you effectively in cases where the real reason for your firing was discrimination.

Contact us online or call us at (212) 949-1001 so that we can discuss your questions and issues about challenging the result of your New York City or New York State government Civil Service hearing.
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