NYC Human Resources Administration v. Barnes

 This Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) case was decided by ALJ Alessandra Zorgniotti on November 15, 2007.   Human Resources Administration (HRA) filed charges under Section 75 of the Civil Service Law against the respondent Barnes. Ms. Barnes had been involuntarily committed by her son and did not appear at the hearing. 

The issue was whether the misconduct which resulted in charges being filed by HRA against Ms. Barnes was the result of a mental disability.  Trial testimony revealed that after the death of her child’s father and her mother Ms. Barnes behavior took a radical turn for the worse.  Respondent had been previously described as “warm; soft spoken and respectful.” 

The Court held that the evidence proved that the misconduct was the result of a mental disability and that HRA should have filed an action under Section 72 of the Civil Service Law rather than Section 75. Finally, the ALJ held that OATH could not convert a disciplinary hearing to a disability hearing  in the respondent’s absence but left HRA the option to proceed under Section 72 for a disability leave.