The OATH Trials Division hears a diverse range of cases from across different City Agencies. The following are the most common types of cases that come before the tribunal.
City Clerk/ Lobbying
Paid Sick Leave Law and Department of Consumer Affairs
Conflicts of Interest
Campaign Finance Board
Contract Dispute Resolution Board
The Trials Division conducts City employee disciplinary trials brought under Section 75 of the Civil Service Law. The determinations in disciplinary proceedings are recommendations that are provided to the agency head for final action.
Disciplinary proceedings can be brought before the Trials Division against employees of all of the City's civilian agencies and uniformed agencies, except police. Disciplinary cases include charges of misconduct, insubordination, time and leave violations, incompetency, and off-duty misconduct. Permissible penalties under Section 75 include a reprimand, a fine up to $100, suspension without pay for up to two months, demotion or termination.
The Trials Division also hears matters brought under Section 72 of the Civil Service Law, which allows City agencies to place an employee on involuntary leave when the agency believes the employee is unfit to perform the duties of his or her job due to a non-work related physical or mental disability. At trial, if the agency proves that the employee is unfit due to a disability, the ALJ must recommend that the employee be placed on involuntary leave. Additionally, the Trials Division hears matters brought under Section 71 involving employees who have been separated from employment by reason of a disability resulting from an occupational injury or disease. Back to top
The Trials Division hears a number of cases involving Taxi and Limousine Commission licensed taxicab drivers and for-hire vehicle drivers, including discretionary license revocations, noncompliance hearings, summary suspension hearings following a pre-hearing suspension of a driver's license for alleged public safety risks, and fitness hearings typically resulting from a driver's failed drug test. Read A Guide to your Hearing at the OATH Trials Division (Guide in Spanish)
The Trials Division conducts license revocation trials brought by the Department of Buildings against architects, engineers, master plumbers, electricians, hoist machine operators, site safety managers, concrete testing laboratories, and similar categories of licensees.
The Trials Division hears enforcement proceedings brought by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that include abatements of nuisances or other detrimental health conditions, as well as permit denials, suspensions, or revocations. Respondents include restaurant owners, mobile food vendors, and day care operators, among others. The Trials Division also hears proceedings brought against owners of alleged dangerous dogs.
The Trials Division conducts trials brought by the Business Integrity Commission against respondents who have allegedly engaged in unlicensed or unregistered collection of trade waste, as well as applicants and registrants with the Commission whose alleged violations include failure to complete a customer register, report required information, or properly label containers.
The Trials Divisions hears cases brought by the Department of Buildings pursuant to the "Padlock Law" to abate nuisances resulting from commercial uses in residentially zoned districts and high-end commercial and manufacturing uses in low-end commercial districts. If the Department establishes a violation of the law, OATH may recommend closure of the premises.
The Trials Division hears appeals from owners who have had an application to alter or demolish an SRO building denied by the Department of Housing and Preservation Development, based on a finding of probable cause that tenants had been harassed by the owner or the owner's agents. Examples of owner harassment can include repeated threatening buyout offers, failure to provide heat, hot water and other essential services, or unreasonably disruptive construction work.
The Trials Division conducts cases brought by loft tenants seeking coverage under the Loft Law, which is a state law regulating the legal conversion of lofts from commercial or manufacturing use to residential use. At trial, petitioners must establish residential use of the building and that their individual units meet certain physical requirements. If the building is deemed covered by the Law, the protected tenants' units become rent regulated and the owner must legalize the building and register it with the Department of Building's Loft Board. The Trials Division also hears other disputes related to the Loft Law such rent overcharges, harassment, and access cases. Recommendations in Loft Law cases from OATH's Trials Division are sent to the Loft Board for final decision.
The Trials Division hears cases brought by the Commission on Human Rights under the New York City Human Rights Law involving allegations of discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations on the basis of actual or perceived age, race, creed, color, national origin, gender, disability, marital status, partnership status, sexual orientation or alienage or citizenship status. The Human Rights Law also prohibits discrimination based on lawful source of income, which includes income derived from any form of public assistance or housing assistance like section 8 vouchers. Moreover, the law prohibits discrimination against job applicants with prior convictions, with limited exceptions.
Human Rights cases heard at the Trials Division include landlords or business owners charged with failing to make a residential building or public accommodation accessible to individuals with disabilities, employers charged with sexual harassment, businesses charged with denying access to individuals that use service animals, and businesses charged with discrimination in job postings.
Upon a finding of discrimination, the Trials Division may recommend penalties against respondents including compensatory damages, a civil penalty, and affirmative equitable relief such as nondiscrimination training.
The Trials Division hears enforcement cases filed by the Comptroller against contractors and subcontractors with City agencies alleged to have failed to pay prevailing wages and supplemental benefits to laborers on public work projects in violation of Article 8, section 220 of the New York State Labor Law. The Comptroller may also bring an action under Article 9, section 230 of the law against contractors that allegedly failed to pay prevailing wages and benefits to maintenance workers who perform building service work under a contract with a public agency. In these cases, the ALJ addresses whether there was an underpayment of wages and benefits, whether the violation was willful, and whether the contractor should be assessed a civil penalty and temporarily debarred from working with the City.
The Trials Division also hears rate setting cases brought by the Comptroller on behalf of a complainant union against the Office of Labor Relations, for a determination of the prevailing rate of wages and supplemental benefits to be paid to laborers directly employed by the City. Back to top
The Trials Division hears marriage and domestic partnership license denials referred from the City Clerk, as well as alleged violations of the New York Lobbying Law, which requires that registered lobbyists file reports with the City Clerk's office.
The Trials Division conducts expedited trials following the Police Department's seizure of a vehicle alleged to have been used in connection with a crime. Under a federal district court decision, Krimstock v. Kelly, owners and drivers of a seized vehicle have the right to a prompt hearing challenging the Department's basis for holding the vehicle while waiting for a civil forfeiture proceeding to be completed. At trial, the OATH ALJ determines whether the police gave respondent notice of their right to a hearing, whether probable cause existed for the arrest, if it is likely that the Department will prevail in a civil forfeiture action, and whether retention of the vehicle is necessary because release would result in heightened risk to public safety. Following trial, the ALJ may find that the Department has the right to retain the vehicle, or alternatively may order the vehicle to be released. Did the Police take your car? A guide to your Hearing at OATH Trials Division (Spanish) (Arabic) (Bengali) (Chinese) (Russian) Learn more about these cases and what to expect
In 2018, OATH launched its Pro Bono Legal Representation Referral Program. For vehicle seizure cases, OATH has established formal partnerships with the following NY-area law schools. The Criminal Defense Clinics at these law schools have law students who they have qualified to represent people at vehicle seizure proceedings at the OATH Trials Division if they do not have legal representation of their own. Self-represented respondents who are interested in this service must contact the law schools directly using the contact information below:
Cardozo Criminal Defense Clinic
The Trials Division hears cases involving violations of the Department of Consumer Affairs’ various consumer and worker protection laws, including the Paid Sick Leave Law, as well as complaints brought against DCA licensed businesses such as towing companies and second hand car dealers, among others.
The Trials Division hears cases brought by the Conflicts of Interest Board against City officers, employees, and officials who have allegedly violated the City's ethics and conflicts of interest rules.
The Trials Division conducts trials brought by the Campaign Finance Board against individuals running for elected office who are charged with violations of the Campaign Finance Act or Rules. Specific violations may include failure to file required statements or documentation, breach of certification, and submission of false information, among others. The Board may also bring an action to recoup an overpayment based on improper use of public funds or unspent campaign funds. Back to top
The Contract Dispute Resolution Board (CDRB) is based at OATH's Trials Division and hears disputes between a City agency and a contractor that arise during the administration of a contract for goods and services or construction.
The CDRB is composed of three panel members selected for each dispute, including an OATH Administrative Law Judge, a representative from the Mayor's Office of Contract Services, and a person selected from a roster of private individuals with appropriate background to act as decision-makers. 9 RCNY § 4-09(f).
The CDRB is the third and final step in the contract dispute resolution process following the contractor's submission of its claim to the Agency Head and then to the Office of the Comptroller. The contract dispute resolution procedures are set forth in section 4-09 of the Rules of the Procurement Policy Board. 9 RCNY § 4-09. The contractor may appeal an unfavorable decision by the Comptroller by filing a petition with the CDRB within 30 days of the Comptroller's decision. 9 RCNY § 4-09(g).
During the COVID-19 public health emergency, to file a petition with the CDRB, the Contractor must submit one (1) complete set of the petition in electronic form with proof of service on the Law Department to Martin Rainbow, OATH, email@example.com; one (1) complete set in hard copy to the Law Department (Attn: Commercial and Real Estate Litigation Division) as well as electronically to: ServiceECF@law.nyc.gov; and one (1) copy of a statement of the substance of the dispute to the Agency Head and one (1) to the Comptroller. 9 RCNY § 4-09(g)(2).
The petition must include:
9 RCNY § 4-09(g)(1).
The CDRB does not conduct a trial with live witnesses. The CDRB is limited to the review of the decision of the agency head and the record before the agency head and the Comptroller. 9 RCNY § 4-09(g)(1). The parties may brief the issues and may make oral arguments supporting their respective positions. Oral arguments are held at OATH.
The CDRB may ask for further submissions from either party. In addition, the CDRB may seek technical or expert advice as it deems necessary. 9 RCNY § 4-09(g)(3).
The CDRB then makes its determination of the dispute and issues a written decision. The decision must be issued within 45 days of the close of the record. 9 RCNY § 4-09(g)(4). If the case is unusually complex and the Board needs more time to decide, it must notify the parties in writing.
The CDRB decision is final and binding on the parties. Judicial review pursuant to Article 78 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules is limited to whether or not the decision was made in violation of lawful procedure, was affected by an error of law, or was arbitrary and capricious or an abuse of discretion. 9 RCNY § 4-09(g)(6).