As of September 7, 2018, New York’s Civil Service Law now extends disciplinary protections to public employees in the labor class. On that date, Governor Cuomo signed off on an amendment to Civil Service Law Section 75, which has long established procedures for disciplining many governmental employees in the State. Before this recent amendment, most laborers were excluded.
What Is the Labor Class?
According to the Civil Service Law, the labor class includes all unskilled laborers employed by governmental employers within the state. It does not include positions for which a competitive examination is available.
Which Civil Service Employees Does Section 75 Cover?
Before the amendment, Section 75 covered the following members of the Classified Civil Service (with limited exceptions):
- All competitive class permanent appointees.
- Any permanent appointee who was honorably discharged from the U.S. armed forces after serving in time of war.
- Any permanent appointee who is an exempt volunteer firefighter.
- An employee who has served at least 5 years of continuous service in a non-competitive position not designated as confidential or influencing policy.
- A non-competitive employee of New York City in the position of Homemaker or Home Aide who has at least 3 years of continuous service in the position.
- A police department employee holding the position of detective for three continuous years or more.
Now employees in the labor class get the same protections as non-competitive class employees. Thus, it applies to laborers with at least 5 years of continuous service. The exclusion for confidential or policy-influencing positions also applies, but it is unlikely that many laborers would have those designations.
Waiver of Section 75 Protections
Section 75 establishes default due process requirements for disciplining covered employees. However, employees can waive the protections of Section 75,
Many collective bargaining agreements between unions and public employers establish grievance and arbitration procedures in lieu of those provided by Section 75. Many labor class employees were already subject to these alternative procedures. For them, the amendment will not have any direct impact.
What This Means for Public Employers with Laborers
The change to the law took effect immediately upon Governor Cuomo’s signing. Therefore, any labor class employees with 5 years of continuous service now have job protection–either through Section 75 or a pre-existing contractual alternative.
Governmental entities in New York (including municipalities and school districts) whose laborers previously had no contractual job protection now face a different reality. They must follow Section 75 before disciplining qualifying employees in the labor class.