Public employees are also known as civil service workers. Public employees work for the State of New York, or one of the municipalities within New York, such as the City of New York. On Long Island public employees may work for Nassau County or Suffolk County or for one of Long Island's towns such as Hempstead, Oyster Bay, Brookhaven, Smithtown, or Islip. Employees of special districts such as a library, fire district, sanitation district, or water district are also public employees. Police officers, correction officers, firefighters, and other emergency service workers are public employees. Further, public school teachers are also public employees. The Long Island civil service attorneys at Famighetti & Weinick PLLC are experienced in representing civil service workers.
Public employees and civil service workers in New York enjoy many advantages over private sector employees. For starters, many civil service workers enjoy job protection provided by state statute. Permanent civil service workers are protected by Civil Service Law Section 75 which also applies to many civil service workers on Long Island. Under Section 75 permanent civil service workers can be terminated only after being given a hearing on the charges. A hearing allows the employee who is at risk of termination to present evidence that may help the worker’s case. Even civil service workers who are not subject to Section 75 may still have some protection. Probationary civil service workers can be fired without a Section 75 hearing, but the termination must still be made in good faith and without an illegal purpose. A civil service attorney on Long Island can use CPLR Article 78 proceedings to challenge terminations which are not made in good faith.
Like Section 75, public school teachers can receive tenure appointments. Once tenured, public school teachers on Long Island cannot be fired without a hearing under Education Law Section 3020a.
Unions such as the CSEA and NYSUT may represent civil service workers and teachers at disciplinary hearings. But, workers may consult with a private attorney such as a Long Island civil service lawyer at Famighetti & Weinick PLLC.
In addition to Section 75 and Education Law 3020a, public employees in New York have other protections. Because public employees work for the government, they are protected by the First Amendment. The First Amendment provides protection for free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association and intimate association, and political associations. The First Amendment may also provide protection to whistleblowers. Civil service workers, however, do not enjoy the same level of First Amendment protection as citizens so it is important to consult with experienced First Amendment lawyers such as the Long Island civil service attorneys at Famighetti & Weinick PLLC.
The Fourteenth Amendment also provides workplace protection for civil service workers. The due process clause may allow some civil service workers to file an unlawful termination claim if they are not terminated in accordance with the Civil Service Law or a union collective bargaining agreement. The equal protection clause prohibits public employers from discriminating against workers based on factors such as sex or religion.
Many civil workers are members of unions. Unions in the private sector are regulated by a federal law known as the NLRA. In New York, public unions are controlled by the Taylor Law. Public union members who have union related issues such as grievances may bring their issues to the Public Employment Relations Board or PERB.
Finally, most public employees are also protected by the same employment laws as private sector workers. For example the anti-discrimination laws such as Title VII, the ADA, and the ADEA will apply to most civil service workers on Long Island and in New York.
The laws protecting civil service workers on Long Island can be complicated. The Long Island civil service lawyers at Famighetti & Weinick PLLC have experience with the issues facing civil service employees, including discrimination, hostile work environment, wrongful termination, and disciplinary hearings. We offer free confidential initial consultations during which time our employment lawyers can discuss the many options which may be available for you.