On June 9, 2020, the New York State Legislature voted to strike down New York Civil Service Law §50-a as part of a broader effort to reform police practices in the wake of protests over the killing of George Floyd.
New York Civil Service Law §50-a, a previously obscure law, grants protections to the personnel records of police officers, firefighters and correction officers. Instead of a plaintiff being able to obtain such records merely by asking for them in discovery, a plaintiff had to go through a cumbersome procedure of asking a court to review the records and then determine which records would be produced to the plaintiff. The New York Legislature’s repeal of this statute will make it much easier for plaintiffs to see the full background of officers accused of improper conduct.
In our practice, New York Civil Service Law §50-a has made it difficult for police officers, firefights, and correction officers to obtain records that are essential to a claim of employment discrimination. Harassers used the law to create hurdles to obtain records. Plaintiffs oftentimes had to go through the cumbersome and lengthy process of judicial review just to see documents related to their own complaints.
Schwartz Perry & Heller stands with silence breakers and we are proud that New York has made it easier for public servants who are victims of discrimination to prove their cases.