Do Workfare Recipients Have the Right to Contest the Appropriateness of Their Work Placements ?

Mitchell v. Barrios-Paoli (253 A.D.2d 281, 687 N.Y.S.2d 319) is a case involving workfare recipients' challenge of workfare's failure to accommodate their disabilities. The First Department held that the recipients were entitled to notice and an opportunity for a hearing on their right to contest the appropriateness of their work placements. Petitioners maintain that this is analogous to their claim that they are entitled to notice and an opportunity for a hearing on the appropriateness of any particular nursing home placement. This position is without merit. In Mitchell, the respondents conceded that workfare recipients, who were acknowledged to be employable only within certain limitations, were entitled to challenge medically inappropriate assignments. Thus, the petitioners were not seeking to create a right. The challenge concerned respondents' failure to adequately advise the recipients of how to protect their rights without endangering either their benefits or their health.