Matter of Elizabeth Miller Nabors v Town of Somers

Petitioner, Elizabeth Miller Nabors, began working part time for the Town of Somers in 2003. Though she worked about 10 hours a week, Nabors submitted claims to the Unemployment Insurance Division of the New York State Department of Labor (UID) stating that she was not working at all. Once her position became full time, she received notice from the UID informing her that she was not entitled to the benefits that she had received and was subject to a penalty due to her misrepresentation of her eligibility. Nabors then requested a hearing before the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board which resulted in the administrative law judge confirming the initial determination. The Town then commenced a disciplinary action against Nabors charging her with two counts of misconduct and one count of incompetence and placed her on an unpaid suspension. A hearing was scheduled for March 2006.

Nabors’ counsel requested the hearing be adjourned to a later date. Due to various other adjournments, the hearing was not conducted until July 2006. The hearing officer issued a decision in January 2007 finding Nabors guilty of all three charges. The final resolution, terminating petitioner’s employment was entered in May 2007; 15 months after Nabors suspension began.

Nabors then commenced this appeal to review the decision, alleging wrongful discharge, and to recover back pay for the period of the suspension exceeding 30 days. Since the determination to terminate petitioner was supported by substantial evidence and was not so severe a penalty as to shock the conscience, the Court dismissed this part of the petition. The Court did however agree that Nabors was due to receive back pay for the period of time she was suspended beyond the 30 day limit even though she was found guilty of the charges against her.

Accordingly, the Court granted the petition to the extent of awarding petitioner back pay, otherwise denied the proceeding, and remitted the matter to Supreme Court for a hearing to determine the amount of back pay to be awarded.

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