The Third Department determined the petitioner did not demonstrate the elimination of his position with the parks maintenance department was done in bad faith or to circumvent the Civil Service Law. The Third Department concluded the town violated the Open Meetings Law when it eliminated petitioner’s position, but the nature of the violation (mere negligence) did not warrant invalidating the town’s actions:
“[A] public employer may, in the absence of bad faith, collusion or fraud, abolish positions for purposes of economy or efficiency” … . Respondent explained through the affidavits of its Supervisor and a member of its Town Board that because its parks maintenance department consisted of only petitioner and one part-time laborer, it could achieve greater economy and efficiency by abolishing the supervisory position in favor of hiring additional laborers. Petitioner’s managerial duties were shifted to the Supervisor and two full-time and one part-time laborer positions were created at an overall cost savings.
The burden was then on petitioner to demonstrate that his position was eliminated in bad faith or as a subterfuge to circumvent his rights under the Civil Service Law … . However, the mere reassignment of duties, in and of itself, does not constitute proof of bad faith … . Nor is there any indication in the record of any personal or political animosities that would suggest some deceitful purpose of ousting and replacing petitioner. Rather, petitioner’s conclusory and unsupported assertions fail to refute the Town Board’s showing that its actions were part of a good faith effort to reorganize a municipal department for the purposes of reducing costs and increasing efficiency … .
* * * “[T]he record does not suggest that the [Town Board’s] failure to comply with the precise requirements of the Open Meetings Law was anything more than mere negligence,” which does not constitute good cause to invalidate the Town Board’s otherwise permissible actions … . Matter of Cutler v Town of Mamakating, 2016 NY Slip Op 01543, 3rd Dept 3-3-16
MUNICIPAL LAW (ELIMINATION OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEE’S POSITION NOT DONE IN BAD FAITH)/EMPLOYMENT LAW (ELIMINATION OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEE’S POSITION NOT DONE IN BAD FAITH)/OPEN MEETINGS LAW (NEGLIGENT VIOLATION OF OPEN MEETINGS LAW DID NOT INVALIDATE TOWN’S ACTIONS)