OATH: NYC Health Board

The ABC’s of New York City’s OATH Tribunal Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (“OATH”)

“NOV”. A Notice of Violation (“NOV”) is a written legal notice issued to a restaurant. The restaurant receives a NOV when it is found to have violated one or more of the health laws during its Department of Health and Mental Hygiene inspection. The NOV contains information about the date and location of the establishment’s OATH hearing. If you have lost your NOV, a written request can be presented to the OATH Health Tribunal for a duplicate copy at no cost.

After receiving a Notice of Violation, the charged establishment has a few options. A hearing can be conducted in person, by phone, mail, or online. The establishment may also elect to settle prior to the OATH hearing.

The OATH Hearing is your establishment’s opportunity to make its case and challenge the inspector’s allegations. The rules of the Health Tribunal are found in Chapter 6 of Title 48 of the Rules of the City of New York (“Rules of Practice Applicable to Cases Before the Health Tribunal at OATH”). The Rules outline the hearing and appeal process, as well as the rights of all parties appearing before the OATH Health Tribunal.

In-Person hearings provide a forum to present your case to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). You may hire an attorney experienced in OATH Hearings to represent you before the ALJ. Non-attorneys are also permitted to represent you at the hearing. Retaining counsel to assist you in your hearing may be useful in presenting evidence, navigating the process, and appealing any unfavorable outcome, including costly fines.

When you arrive at the OATH Health Tribunal, first check in with the reception desk and sign the registration sheet. You will be provided a Notice of Appearance form, which will then be given to an ALJ (the Judge) who will call you for your hearing. The hearings are heard on a first come first serve basis.

The ALJ listens to the evidence and witnesses may be called in support of your arguments. You may seek to dismiss the violations alleged at the time of the inspection. You may request that the inspector who examined your restaurant’s sanitation practices be present to testify at the OATH Health Tribunal hearing. The inspector may be questioned regarding his or her report. To have the inspector appear during your hearing, a request should be submitted before the scheduled hearing date. If you request to have the inspector appear, a new date will likely be assigned so that all parties only need to appear once.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the ALJ will issue a decision and order based on his or her findings. The ALJ will either find the establishment to be in violation, and will impose a penalty, or he or she will dismiss the violation. If you are not satisfied with the hearing’s disposition an appeal may be filed with the OATH Health Tribunal. In order to appeal, you must pay all fines imposed within 30 days of the ALJ’s decision and submit your appeal online using the OATH Health Tribunal Appeals Application form. To schedule an initial consultation regarding issues related to an OATH Tribunal Hearing, please contact us through our Online Contact Form, by email: contact@rudnerpaludis.com, or by phone: (212) 835-6768 in New York City or (609) 480-3080 in Princeton, New Jersey.