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Court of Appeals —Due Process: D’Angelo v. Scoppetta

New York State Court of Appeals

Due Process

Formal Reprimand versus Critical Evaluation

D’Angelo v. Scoppetta
No. 166
Judge Ciparick

Background: The court was asked to consider whether a written letter from the assistant commissioner of the Fire Department of the City of New York to petitioner firefighter advising him that he violated the department’s Code of Conduct and Equal Employment Opportunity Policy may be made part of the petitioner’s permanent EEO file without affording him an opportunity for a hearing pursuant to Section 15-113 of the Administrative Code of New York City.

Ruling: The Court of Appeals held that the petitioner is entitled to a hearing before the department may place the letter in his permanent file. The court rejected the respondent’s contention that the letter was not a formal reprimand, but a critical evaluation not subject to the same due process protections. The letter was the culmination of an investigation that took place over a two-year period. Moreover, the letter reflected the serious nature of the complaint against the petitioner.

Ellen Ravitch for the appellants; Michael N. Block for the respondent