A correction officer was charged with improper use of force against two inmates. That officer and his partner were also charged with making false reports and failing to obtain medical attention for an injured inmate. ALJ John B. Spooner found petitioner proved that the first officer used improper force against one of the inmates but he recommended dismissal of the rest of the charges. The recommended penalty was a 15-day suspension, given the inconclusive proof as to the precise extent of the force used. This was the first OATH case involving videoconferenced testimony by an inmate from a City jail. Dep't of Correction v. Wingate (in PDF), OATH Index Nos. 1490/12 & 1491/12 (Nov. 15, 2012).
An office worker was charged with being intoxicated at work on four occasions during a one month period. ALJ Kevin F. Casey sustained two of the charges. He rejected as implausible respondent’s claim that his medications and illnesses cause a variety of symptoms, including dizziness and vomiting, which give people the mistaken impression that he was intoxicated, in view of proof that respondent was diagnosed with acute alcohol intoxication at a hospital on one of the charged dates. Given respondent’s prior disciplinary record -- which included a 40-day suspension for similar, recent misconduct -- and in the absence of evidence of rehabilitation, ALJ Casey recommended termination of respondent’s employment. Human Resources Admin. v. Anonymous (in PDF), OATH Index No. 212/13 (Nov. 21, 2012).
A firefighter who tested positive for cocaine admitted to using the drug but argued that he should be permitted to vest his pension and retire when eligible to do so. ALJ Alessandra F. Zorgniotti noted that pursuant to the Department’s “zero tolerance policy,” termination of employment is the usual penalty for a first time positive test, in the absence of exacerbating or extenuating circumstances. She found that respondent failed to present sufficient evidence in mitigation to justify a lesser penalty. She recommended termination of respondent’s employment, without an allowance that his pension be permitted to vest fully. Fire Dep’t v. Arcello (in PDF), OATH Index No. 109/13 (Nov. 29, 2012).
An ultrasound technician was charged with failing to follow hospital procedures requiring that a patient’s name and medical record number be placed on each image of the patient’s echocardiogram. Without the required identifiers, the reviewing cardiologist could not prepare his report, and the patient had to return to re-take the test. Though the hospital sought the penalty of termination of employment, ALJ Tynia D. Richard recommended a 30-day suspension, noting that the misconduct, while serious, was a single error and caused no harm except inconvenience. Health & Hospitals Corp (Jacobi Medical Ctr.) v. Goldfayn (in PDF), OATH Index No. 2100/12 (Nov. 21, 2012).
ALJ Spooner found that a pharmacy technician sexually harassed two female co-workers by forcibly grabbing one from behind and pressing himself against her, and by forcibly kissing the other employee three times. Termination of employment was recommended. Health & Hospitals Corp (Elmhurst Hospital Ctr.) v. Polepalle (in PDF), OATH Index No. 142/13 (Nov. 20, 2012).