The following is a summary of some recent OATH decisions decided in *October 2017*. To ascertain whether the OATH judges' recommendations were adopted by the referring agency, please call OATH's calendar unit at 1-844-628-4692.
Taxi and Limousine Commission ("TLC") requires applicants for a TLC driver license to take an exam testing their knowledge of City geography, TLC rules, and traffic rules. They are given two hours to answer 80 multiple choice questions and must score at least 70 percent to pass. After a number of exams taken in late 2016 showed extremely short completion times, those licensees were ordered to re-take the test. In October 2017, OATH ALJs issued 12 recommendations in fitness proceedings brought by the TLC against those who failed the re-test. In one such case, the applicant completed the test in nine minutes with a score of 89 percent. On the re-test, he took two hours and failed with a grade of 51 percent. ALJ John B. Spooner found the suspicious circumstances surrounding the passing score were insufficient to prove the applicant committed fraud. However, because the applicant failed the re-test, he was unfit to retain his license and license revocation was recommended. Taxi & Limousine Comm’n v. Castillo, OATH Index No. 250/18 (Oct. 5, 2017), adopted, Comm’r Dec. (Oct. 23, 2017).
Respondent, taxi driver, was charged with sexually harassing a passenger and using his cell phone while driving. He did not appear at trial. The complainant testified that respondent told her that a female passenger had asked him for sex at the end of the ride. Respondent also told the complainant that another taxi driver has sex with passengers “all the time” and respondent asked complainant if she ever had sex in a car. The complainant testified that she felt violated, threatened and scared. ALJ Joycelyn McGeachy-Kuls credited the complainant’s testimony, sustained the charges and recommended license revocation and a $1,350 fine.Taxi & Limousine Comm’n v. Singh, OATH Index No. 118/18 (Oct. 10, 2017), adopted, Comm’r Dec. (Oct. 27, 2017).
Respondent, respiratory therapist, was charged with removing a respiratory device from a patient, failing to notify a doctor or clinical team that he removed it, and failing to respond when summoned to report to the emergency department to provide respiratory care for a trauma patient. ALJ Astrid B. Gloade credited proof showing the patient broke the device before respondent removed it and recommended dismissal of that charge. She sustained the other charges and recommended a sixty-day suspension without pay. Health & Hospitals Corp. (Jacobi Medical Ctr.) v. Hammond, OATH Index No. 2286/17 (Oct. 26, 2017).
Respondent, principal administrative associate, was charged with being absent without leave ("AWOL") for two weeks, falsely attributed her absences to pre-approved leave granted under the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), failing to supervise her team of customer service representatives and failing to attend a mandatory training class. ALJ Alessandra F. Zorgniotti recommended dismissal of the AWOL and falsification of leave charges. She sustained the other charges and recommended a 60-day suspension without pay. Dep’t of Environmental Protection v. Anonymous, OATH Index No. 2230/17 (Oct. 3, 2017), adopted in part, rejected in part, Comm’r Dec. (Oct. 26, 2017) (Commissioner sustained all charges and terminated respondent’s employment).
Candidate, treasurer and campaign committee ("respondents") were charged with violations of campaign finance law during 2013 election campaign. ALJ Kevin F. Casey found that respondents failed to show that pre-election payments for office furnishings and refreshments were in furtherance of the campaign. He also found that respondents made impermissible post-election expenditures for travel and Facebook. ALJ Casey recommended that respondents be held jointly and severally liable for a civil penalty of $853 for the violations. He also recommended that the candidate and the committee be responsible for repaying $1,003.71 of public funds remaining in the campaign account, less reasonable costs associated with the response to audit and repayment request. Campaign Finance Bd. v. Greenfield, Leb and NYC Greenfield, OATH Index No. 1098/17 (Oct. 12, 2017), adopted, Bd. Dec. (Nov. 16, 2017).
A real estate broker violated the City Human Rights Law when he denied a prospective tenant the opportunity to rent an apartment because the complainant advised him that he had a housing voucher. ALJ Faye Lewis recommended that the complainant be awarded $10,000 for mental anguish damages, and that the broker be assessed a civil penalty of $10,000 and participate in anti-discrimination training. Comm’n on Human Rights ex rel. Nieves v. Rojas, OATH Index No. 2153/17 (Oct. 24, 2017).
The Police Department seized a car in connection with the registered owner’s arrest. The registered owner sought return of the car during the pendency of forfeiture proceedings. ALJ Kara J. Miller ordered the Department to return the car, finding it did not serve the registered owner with notice of his right to a hearing at the time of arrest or by mail within five days of the seizure, as required by federal court order. Police Dep’t v. Cuervo, OATH Index No. 633/18, mem. dec. (Oct. 27, 2017).