Recent Decisions

The following is a summary of some recent OATH decisions decided in August 2016.  To ascertain whether the OATH judges' recommendations were adopted by the referring agency, please call OATH's calendar unit at 1-844-628-4692.

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Licensing

ALJ Alessandra F. Zorgniotti recommended revocation of an outdoor advertising company’s registration with the Department of Buildings. The company failed to pay $597,850 in civil penalties, failed to pay for the removal of an illegal sign, and violated the city zoning resolution at sign locations near a highway or park on three or more occasions within a 36-month period. Although no other outdoor advertising company has had its registration revoked, ALJ Zorgniotti deemed this penalty appropriate because the company repeatedly ignored the Sign Laws and failed to pay outstanding penalties. Dep’t of Buildings v. OTR Media Group, Inc., OATH Index No. 1835/16 (Aug. 24, 2016), adopted, Comm’r Dec. (Aug. 26, 2016).

A taxicab driver was charged with harassing and abusing a passenger. After a dispute over the fare, the driver followed the passenger into her building lobby, yelled profanities at her, and chased her down a hallway. ALJ Astrid B. Gloade found that the driver’s actions were a risk to public safety and recommended license revocation and a $1,350 fine. Taxi & Limousine Comm’n v. Singh, OATH Index No. 2321/16 (Aug. 12, 2016), adopted, Comm’r Dec. (Sept. 7, 2016).

After respondent, a mobile food vendor, failed to appear for a scheduled trial, ALJ Ingrid M. Addison found him in default and proceeded in the form of an inquest. ALJ Addison recommended that respondent’s license be revoked after the evidence established that respondent made misrepresentations about his identity on a food vendor license application to avoid paying penalties on a prior license, and incurred several Health Code and Administrative Code violations over a two-year period, failing to pay the fines imposed. Dep’t of Health & Mental Hygiene v. Gad, OATH Index No. 0005/17 (Aug. 3, 2016).


Prevailing Wage

The Office of the Comptroller alleged that the City failed to pay a group of laborers the prevailing rate of wages and supplemental benefits in accordance with a prior Comptroller order. ALJ Gloade agreed, finding that the City had improperly implemented the order by failing to account for all hours worked by the laborers when calculating supplemental benefits and failing to pay laborers double the regular rate of pay on Sundays and certain holidays. Office of the Comptroller ex. rel. Local 924 v. Office of Labor Relations, OATH Index No. 1624/15 (Aug. 10, 2016).


Human Rights

A landlord was charged with violating the City’s Human Rights Law after refusing to provide a tenant with a new or modified bathtub to accommodate her daughter’s disability. ALJ John B. Spooner found that the landlord had discriminated on the basis of a disability and recommended $50,000 in emotional distress damages for the tenant, $30,000 for her daughter, a civil penalty of $40,000, and additional affirmative relief including anti-discrimination training. Comm’n on Human Rights ex. Rel. Blue v. Jovic, OATH Index No. 1624/16 (Aug. 19, 2016).


Real Property

Two tenants of an interim multiple dwelling filed a rent adjustment application seeking to have their base rent set at the last amount they paid directly to the owner in 2007, before being directed to pay rent to another tenant. The owner argued that the rent should be adjusted to the higher rent that they paid to the other tenant in June of 2010, when the Multiple Dwelling Law came into effect. ALJ Kara J. Miller found that because there was no formal rental agreement and the other tenant was not acting as the owner, the rent should be set at a percentage of the last amount actually received by the owner for the entire floor prior to the effective date of the law in 2010. Matter of Sullivan, OATH Index No. 1093/15 (Aug. 9, 2016).


Personnel

ALJ Susan J. Pogoda recommended termination of employment of an eligibility specialist who failed to report an arrest for shoplifting, fraudulently accepted food stamps, and failed to report acceptance of public assistance rent checks from her sister. ALJ Pogoda noted that respondent’s dishonesty did not comport with the duties of her job, which include handling confidential and personal information about HRA clients. Human Resources Admin. v. Charleman, OATH Index No. 1653/16 (Aug. 5, 2016).