The Fourth Department determined Supreme Court properly found that the sheriff abused his discretion when he refused to allow petitioner, a deputy sheriff, to withdraw his resignation. The deputy resigned after the sheriff told him he would be fired if he didn’t resign:
It is well settled that ” [a] resignation under coercion or duress is not a voluntary act and may be nullified’ ” … . Although a threat to terminate an employee does not constitute duress if the person making the threat has the legal right to terminate the employee … , such a threat does constitute duress if it is wrongful and precludes the exercise of free will … . It follows that a resignation obtained under the threat of wrongful termination is involuntary and may be withdrawn upon request, and that it is an abuse of discretion for an officer to deny such a request … .
Here, petitioner tendered his resignation under the threat of wrongful termination, and we therefore conclude that the Sheriff abused his discretion in refusing to allow petitioner to withdraw the resignation. Civil Service Law § 75 provides that a public employer may not terminate or otherwise discipline certain public employees “except for incompetency or misconduct shown after a hearing upon stated charges” … . A covered employee “against whom removal or other disciplinary action is proposed shall have written notice thereof and of the reasons therefor, shall be furnished a copy of the charges preferred against him and shall be allowed at least eight days for answering the same in writing” … . Thereafter, a hearing must be held … . There is no dispute that petitioner was covered by the statute and that he was not provided with the requisite predisciplinary hearing. Thus, the Sheriff had no legal right to terminate him. Matter of Ortlieb v Lewis County Sheriff’s Dept., 2017 NY Slip Op 08115, Fourth Dept 11-17-17
MUNICIPAL LAW (EMPLOYMENT LAW, CIVIL SERVICE LAW, DEPUTY SHERIFF WAS COERCED INTO RESIGNING WITHOUT A HEARING, SHERIFF SHOULD HAVE ALLOWED DEPUTY TO WITHDRAW HIS RESIGNATION (FOURTH DEPT))/EMPLOYMENT LAW (MUNICIPAL LAW, CIVIL SERVICE LAW, DEPUTY SHERIFF WAS COERCED INTO RESIGNING WITHOUT A HEARING, SHERIFF SHOULD HAVE ALLOWED DEPUTY TO WITHDRAW HIS RESIGNATION (FOURTH DEPT))/CIVIL SERVICE LAW (EMPLOYMENT LAW, DEPUTY SHERIFF WAS COERCED INTO RESIGNING WITHOUT A HEARING, SHERIFF SHOULD HAVE ALLOWED DEPUTY TO WITHDRAW HIS RESIGNATION (FOURTH DEPT))