Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"Whiz" Kid

In Medard v. Doherty, 113980/06 (N.Y. County Supreme Court, July 5, 2007), the Court upheld the termination of a probationary sanitation worker for failing to provide a urine sample despite his claim of suffering from "shy bladder syndrome." After the worker had been arrested for possession of marijuana (2 weeks shy of the completion of his probationary worker status), he was ordered to provide a urine sample. He did so at 10:00 o'clock on the morning of the request. When it was discovered that his sample was in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, he was ordered to consume water and provide a second urine sample under direct observation. He made an attempt to do so an hour later, but could not. Several further attempts to provide a sample within a specified period that day were unsuccessful.

The Sanitation Department directed the worker to provide a detailed, written evaluation from a physician with medical expertise concerning the issues raised by the worker's failure to submit the second urine specimen. The worker first provided a one-sentence note from his family physician stating that he had a urinary problem and was being evaluated by a urologist. The worker was suspended thereafter pending further evaluation. Later, a second note, submitted by a urologist, stated that the worker had a "shy bladder" and that he was encouraged to drink more. A third note, this time from a psychologist, stated that the worker had to do his business in private and had intense anxiety doing so anywhere other than his home.

The Sanitation Department upheld the suspension based on the worker's failure to provide an adequate explanation with respect to his failure to provide the necessary specimen, and because the urologist was not qualified to diagnose "shy bladder syndrome." The worker commenced an Article 78 proceeding.

The Supreme Court denied the Petition. First, the Court discussed the fact that a municipal agency could terminate a probationary employee without explanation for any reason or no reason, as long as it was not done in bad faith. No bad faith was found in this instance. Second [and I really like this part], the Court opined as follows: "Assuming, arguendo, that petitioner did in fact suffer from shy bladder syndrome … respondent was justified in terminating him. Petitioner does not assert that his alleged shy bladder syndrome was [a] 'medically documented pre-existing psychological disorder.' He did not disclose it on his pre-appointment questionnaire … Notably, he was able to provide the first specimen despite his later claim of an inability to urinate outside of his home."

At a minimum, you've got to give the guy credit for coming up with a "whiz" of a creative excuse.

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