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OATH Recent Decisions

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COVID-19 update

Pursuant to an order of the Chief Administrative Law Judge, hearings, trials, and other OATH operations are available by telephone, videoconferencing, online, or mail. In-person appearances are also available. For more information, visit OATH’s website at www.nyc.gov/oath.


Personnel

ALJ Christine Stecura recommended a 79-day suspension for a sanitation worker charged with 51 complaints of violating his employer’s time and leave policy during a 14-month period, including failing to document emergency leave, providing inadequate documentation, and failing to remain accessible while on sick leave. The ALJ sustained the charges and recommended suspension in lieu of termination due to substantial mitigating circumstances. Most of the sanitation worker’s absences involved caring for his child, who had a serious medical condition, and the worker subsequently obtained approved leave for this purpose. Dep’t of Sanitation v. D.L., OATH Index No. 2434/22 (Dec. 16, 2022).


Supervising ALJ Joan R. Salzman recommended a 30-day suspension for a TLC inspector who cursed at his supervisors, moved aggressively toward them, and forcibly pushed away a colleague who was trying to stop him. The inspector denied wrongdoing, despite video evidence showing him pushing his colleague. Although the inspector had no prior disciplinary history, the ALJ found that the gravity of his violent conduct, combined with his refusal to take responsibility, warranted a 30-day suspension. Taxi & Limousine Comm’n v. Urena-Santos, OATH Index No. 527/23 (Dec. 23, 2022), adopted, Comm’r Dec. (Jan. 19, 2023).


ALJ Jonathan Fogel recommended dismissing charges against a community board member because the community board did not prove that he made two false statements on his application to become a board member. ALJ Fogel declined to dismiss the charges on procedural grounds, finding that the charges were properly brought under the New York City Charter and although the application predates his service as a board member, it is part of his personnel file and considered part of his membership on the board. Brooklyn Community Board 13 v. Greenberg, OATH Index No. 1574/22 (Dec. 5, 2022).


Licensing

ALJ Astrid B. Gloade recommended lifting the suspension of a TLC driver’s license because TLC failed to establish that the driver, who had been arrested for criminal possession of a weapon, posed a direct and substantial threat to the health or safety of the public. During a traffic stop for running a red light, the police discovered five knuckle knives in the driver’s possession. At trial, the driver testified that he is a martial arts instructor who teaches self-defense techniques involving the use of karambits, a curved knife used in martial arts. On the day of his arrest, the driver was teaching a class that involved use of karambits when he received a message that his girlfriend’s mother was in the hospital. In his rush to get to the hospital, he left a class with the karambits still in his possession. In addition to presenting mitigating facts about the circumstances of his arrest, the driver presented evidence of his volunteer work, community involvement, good character, and lack of passenger complaints. Taxi & Limousine Comm’n v. Mejia, OATH Index No. 1384/23 (Dec. 16, 2022).


ALJ Astrid B. Gloade recommended the continued suspension of a TLC driver’s license after finding that his continued licensure posed a direct and substantial threat to the health or safety of the public. The license had been suspended after the driver’s arrest for forcible touching and sexual abuse of a passenger. The ALJ found his testimony that he could not have made sexual remarks to the passenger due to a language barrier inconsistent with his testimony that he was able to communicate sufficiently with the passenger to arrange for payment of the fare using Zelle. The driver also failed to address allegations that he groped the passenger. Taxi & Limousine Comm’n v. Molla, OATH Index No. 1385/23 (Dec. 9, 2022).


Real Property

ALJ Joycelyn McGeachy-Kuls found that a unit was not eligible for coverage under the Loft Law because it had been previously covered and de-regulated by a valid sale of rights. In 1985, the building was found to be an interim multiple dwelling under the Loft Law. The prior owner had purchased rights under the Loft Law for each unit and declared its intent to convert the building to commercial use. In 1998, the Loft Board indicated that the building was no longer within its jurisdiction. Although the owner subsequently reconverted the building to residential use, the ALJ found that the unit was removed from rent regulation by a valid sale of rights and the Loft Law did not authorize re-regulating units that were properly removed from rent regulation. Matter of Stigsgaard, OATH Index No. 2137/20 (Dec. 1, 2022).


Contracts

The Contract Dispute Resolution Board, chaired by ALJ Kevin F. Casey, denied a $615,549.79 claim for additional compensation filed by a construction company against the Department of Design and Construction for the cost of a site safety coordinator. The Board found that a site safety coordinator was required under the contract and that the company had a duty to seek pre-bidding clarification to resolve any ambiguity in the contract. Dobco, Inc. v. Dep’t of Design & Construction, OATH Index No. 1527/22, mem. dec. (Dec. 15, 2022).