About the Justice Center Benefit
The PEF Membership Benefits Program (PEF MBP) provides legal representation for a Justice Center substantiated case to active, dues-paying PEF members, through the appeals process of a substantiated finding of the Justice Center. An attorney will be assigned to the member to represent them through the appeals process from the hearing to the administrative decision (Stages 3 through 6). Legal fees are paid in full for the member as long as the member remains an active, dues-paying PEF member throughout the entire process. The PEF Membership Benefits Program will pay no more than $225,000 aggregate, per calendar year, to all beneficiaries of this benefit.
Stages of the Justice Center Investigation
Stage 1: Investigation and Interrogation
Stage 2: Notice of Substantiated Findings
Stage 3: Appeal/Request for Amendment of Findings
Stage 4: Decision on Appeal/Request
Stage 5: Discovery
Stage 6: Hearing
Stage 7: Article 78 Challenge
The Justice Center Process
The Justice Center for Protection of People with Special Needs (“Justice Center”) is a law enforcement agency created by New York State Legislation, which has oversight of six (6) agencies serving “vulnerable people.” If a PEF member is the subject of a report alleging acts of serious abuse or neglect, the Justice Center conducts an investigation. During the initial stage of the investigation, the member is entitled to representation under Article 33 of the PEF/State collective bargaining agreement.
Once the initial stage is concluded, the Justice Center determines whether the report against the member is “substantiated” or “unsubstantiated.” If the report is “substantiated,” the member may appeal the determination through an administrative review process. Legal representation in the appeals process is covered by the PEF Membership Benefits Program Justice Center Benefit.
Process if Subject of a Justice Center Investigation
If a PEF member is the subject of a Justice Center investigation, or receives a substantiated report from the Justice Center, the member should immediately contact their PEF Field Representative. The Field Representative will help the member through any interrogation (Stage 1) and will send the case to an attorney for representation through the Justice Center for Stage 3 and beyond.
PEF regional field representative contact information:
- Region 1/Buffalo: (800) 462-1462
- Region 2/Hornell: (800) 724-5001
- Region 3/Rochester: (800) 724-5003
- Region 4/Syracuse: (800) 724-5004
- Region 5/Binghamton: (800) 724-4998
- Region 6/Utica: (800) 724-5005
- Region 7/Potsdam: (315) 261-4464
- Region 8/Albany: (800) 342-4306
- Region 9/Poughkeepsie: (800) 548-4870
- Region 10/11 Manhattan/Brooklyn: (212) 227-3132
- Region 12/Long Island: (800) 832-5284
Justice Center Benefit Terms & Conditions
- All legal fees for Stages 3 through 6 of the Justice Center investigation will be paid in full as long as the member meets all the requirements of the program. Any Article 78 Challenge at Stage 7 of the investigation is not covered by this benefit and the member is solely responsible for any legal fees if the member wishes to pursue the matter at Stage 7.
- A PEF member is not required to use the Justice Center Benefit provided by the PEF Membership Benefits Program. Members are free, at all times, to select an attorney of their own choosing and make payment to such an attorney for services, but PEF MBP will neither absorb, nor be responsible for, any part of the fees or charges of attorneys other than those provided by the PEF Membership Benefits Program.
- A PEF member is also free, at any time, to discontinue the services of an attorney provided by the PEF Membership Benefits Program and, if they so desire, to secure the services of an attorney of their choice. However, in such an event, PEF MBP will neither absorb, nor be responsible for, any part of the fees or charges of such other attorneys.
- The attorney provided by the PEF Membership Benefits Program may, under exceptional circumstances, at any time (as is customary in the case of the independent retention of private attorneys) not undertake, discontinue, or withdraw from representation of any PEF member. In such cases, the covered member is free to secure their own attorney; however, PEF MBP will neither absorb, nor be responsible for, any of the fees or charges of that attorney.
To Qualify for the Benefit
PEF members must meet the following conditions:
- Must be an active, dues-paying PEF member at the time of the alleged incident.
- Must be an active, dues-paying PEF member at the time of the substantiated charge.
- Must be an active, dues-paying PEF member at all times during their representation before the Justice Center.
- Must provide any forms requested by PEF MBP for payment of the benefit.
- If the PEF member retires from their PEF position, representation will immediately be discontinued.
- If the PEF member resigns from their PEF position, representation will immediately be discontinued.
- If the PEF member stops paying PEF dues for any reason, representation will be immediately discontinued.
- If the PEF member changes to a different bargaining unit at any time during their representation, their representation will be immediately discontinued.
- If the PEF member fails to cooperate with the PEF Membership Benefits Program or their assigned attorney in any way, their representation will be immediately discontinued.
- Stage 7/Article 78 /Challenge is not covered by this benefit.