Nora Gonzalez was awarded Fair Hearing of the Month by the Empire Justice Center. Her efforts avoide

After an alcohol and substance abuse assessment, our client was deemed to be in need of alcohol and substance abuse treatment but was able to work. Alcohol and substance abuse activity was recommended to be included as part of his employment plan. Our client was personally handed forms detailing his responsibilities, one of which was to have an intake interview in July 2018. Our client did not show up to the intake interview and in October 2018, he was notified that his Safety Net Assistance was being discontinued for 90 days.

Nora Gonzalez, a paralegal in our Welfare Unit argued that pursuant to 99 INF-4, drug and alcohol treatment must be listed as part of an Employment Plan, as defined in 18 NYCRR 385.7(b)(1) and (2), and if it is not, a sanction for non-compliance cannot be imposed. The only documents in the Agency’s packet of our client were the Substance Abuse Treatment Acknowledgment form and the Client Responsibilities and Requirements form. The ALJ found that these two documents did not fit the regulatory definition of an employment plan. Although our client failed to comply with a Drug and Alcohol program, the Agency never presented our client’s Employability Plan mandating attendance in the drug and alcohol programs.

Nora also argued that the sanction notice was defective because it failed to state the specific instance of non-compliance, but the ALJ did not address that issue because the employment plan failed to list drug and alcohol treatment as an employment activity. The Agency was ordered to continue our client’s Safety Net Assistance.

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