Denial of Petitioner’s Application for Employment as a School-Bus Driver, Based Upon His Criminal Record, Was Not Arbitrary and Capricious Despite Petitioner’s Good Employment Record and His Obtaining a Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities
The Court of Appeals, in a full-fledged opinion by Judge Fahey, over a two-judge dissent, determined petitioner was properly precluded by the Department of Education (DOE) from employment as a school-bus driver, based upon his criminal record. The offenses were committed when petitioner was in his 40’s and petitioner had had no further contact with the criminal justice system for 15 years. Petitioner had obtained a certificate of relief from civil disabilities and had a good employment record, which included transporting children. The Court of Appeals held that the DOE’s action was not arbitrary and capricious because the DOE considered all of the statutory factors in Corrections Law 752. The Court of Appeals noted that obtaining a certificate of relief from civil disabilities establishes a presumption of rehabilitation, but the certificate does not establish a prima facie right to a license or employment:
The Correction Law sets out eight factors that a public agency or private employer must consider when deciding whether one of the § 752 exceptions applies:
“(a) The public policy of this state, as expressed in this act, to encourage the licensure and employment of persons previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses.
(b) The specific duties and responsibilities necessarily related to the license or employment sought or held by the person.
(c) The bearing, if any, the criminal offense or offenses for which the person was previously convicted will have on his [or her] fitness or ability to perform one or more such duties or responsibilities.
(d) The time which has elapsed since the occurrence of the criminal offense or offenses.
(e) The age of the person at the time of occurrence of the criminal offense or offenses.
(f) The seriousness of the offense or offenses.
(g) Any information produced by the person, or produced on his [or her] behalf, in regard to his [or her] rehabilitation and good conduct.
(h) The legitimate interest of the public agency or private employer in protecting property, and the safety and welfare of specific individuals or the general public.” (Correction Law § 753 .)
[The Court of Appeals has held] that “[a] failure to take into consideration each of these factors results in a failure to comply with the Correction Law’s mandatory directive” … . Matter of Dempsey v New York City Dept. of Educ., 2015 NY Slip Op 04028, CtApp 5-12-15