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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Federal Investigation of NYC Snow Response

The New York Daily News reports that a federal criminal investigation into the response (and an alleged conspiracy to undercut or interfere with it) to the recent blizzard has begun.

Legal analysis begins with this question: When does one's failure to achieve a certain performance level become a criminal conspiracy? Such a legal standard will invite tremendous abuse. Not only will such a case turn employment into a "strict liability" job where workers could go to jail if their supervisor doesn't like their work (or skin color, etc.), but criminal conspiracy charges can connect one person's entirely lawful act (when viewed in isolation) to a larger criminal conspiracy. Entirely innocent people thus can be connected with a criminal enterprise and risk being criminally charged!

The liability exposure -- meaning the exposure to criminal charges -- can be widespread. Potentially, virtually every city worker involved in -- or having any responsibilities for city services -- could be a witness.

(Read previous commentary on the problem of selecting people to determine who has done a good job, and the strategic error of using threats to motivate workers who are already expecting pay cuts or layoffs.) 

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer. Mr. Dixon may be reached at and 917-696-2442. This article is for informative purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Eric Dixon, Esq. 
Eric Dixon LLC
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1 comment:

  1. Please read the email I sent you this evening. I live on a major two one way streets on Parsons Blvd, which are main arteries to get to the entrance of 495/LIE. My street was NOT plowed until December 30th. 2010. 72 hours post blizzard. I have public housing with many elderly and handicapped across the street. I heard that Sanitation workers were getting hours cut, so they stretched out the week for O/T. The average sanitation employee makes approx $85,000 yearly. LOL.