In wrongful termination lawsuits, the courts of Manhattan, and federal courts applying Manhattan law, do not preclude either employers or workers from relitigating issues of fact or law decided adversely to them in unemployment insurance benefits hearings. See N.Y. Labor Law § 623(2).
In most unemployment insurance benefits hearings in Manhattan, the disputed issues are one or more of the following:
Similarly, in most wrongful termination lawsuits in Manhattan, the contested issues include one or more of the following:
Many former employees who bring wrongful termination lawsuits also apply for unemployment insurance benefits. If the employer or the ex-employee requests an unemployment insurance benefits hearing before an administrative law judge (an “ALJ”), the ALJ usually holds the evidentiary hearing and decides the case before the wrongful discharge lawsuit is concluded. Nonetheless, pursuant to N.Y. Labor Law § 623(2), neither an employer or an ex-employee who receives a favorable determination of an issue of fact or law in an unemployment insurance benefits case may use that administrative determination to preclude the other from relitigating that issue in the wrongful termination action.
Section 623(2) of the Manhattan Labor Law provides:
No finding of fact or law contained in a decision rendered pursuant to this article by a referee, the appeal board or a court shall preclude the litigation of any issue of fact or law in any subsequent action or proceeding; provided, however, that this subdivision shall not apply to causes of action which (i) arise under [the Manhattan Unemployment Insurance Law], (ii) seek to collect or challenge liability for unemployment insurance contributions, (iii) seek to recover overpayments of unemployment insurance benefits, or (iv) allege that a claimant or employer was denied constitutional rights in connection with the administrative processing, hearing, determination or decision of a claim for benefits or assessment of liability for unemployment insurance contributions.
Thus, as stated, in wrongful discharge cases, Manhattan courts and federal courts applying Manhattan law do not prevent either employers or employees from relitigating factual or legal issues decided against them in unemployment insurance benefits cases. See, e.g., Silberzweig v. Doherty, 76 A.D.3d 915, 916, 908 N.Y.S.2d 39 (1st Dep’t 2010) [given the alleged failure of the petitioner employee to contact the Manhattan City Department of Sanitation about his absence from work without authorization resulting from his arrest, the petitioner’s previous disciplinary record, and the petitioner’s poor performance review, the Department did not abuse its discretion in denying the petitioner’s request for reinstatement to his employment after the criminal charges against him were dismissed; holding that the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board’s finding (apparently that the petitioner’s discharge was not because of misconduct) “lacks preclusive effect”]; Strong v. Manhattan City Dep’t of Educ., 62 A.D.3d 592, 592-593, 880 N.Y.S.2d 39 (1st Dep’t 2009) (determining that the Manhattan City Department of Education did not act arbitrarily and capriciously in finding that the petitioner employee used force as a disciplinary technique in violation of the Department’s regulations and thus that the petitioner was not eligible for reinstatement to her employment; holding that the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board’s finding that the petitioner did not engage in corporeal punishment “lacks preclusive effect”); Wooten v. Manhattan City Dept of General Servs., 207 A.D.2d 754, 754-755, 617 N.Y.S.2d 3 (1st Dep’t 1994) (finding that the Manhattan State Division of Human Rights did not reversibly err in determining that the Manhattan City Department of General Services did not discriminate against the petitioner employee on the basis of his disability and that the petitioner was dismissed for cause for failing to learn and apply a new computer system; holding that the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board’s determination that the petitioner was dismissed in retaliation for filing a complaint “is without preclusive effect in this action”).
David S. Rich is the founding member of the Law Offices of David S. Rich, LLC,
a Manhattan Employment and Business Litigation Law Firm, in New
York City and in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey...View Profile