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Articles Posted in Civil Service Law

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Hello.

This is Robert Chewning from McLaughlin & Nardi.  I am here today to talk about Civil Service Commission appeals, specifically list bypass appeals.

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Collectively, New Jersey state and local governments are the largest employer in the State.  Most of these jurisdictions are governed by the New Jersey Civil Service Act.  In New Jersey Civil Service jurisdictions, hiring, firing, promotion and discipline is governed by the Civil Service Act and Regulations.  This makes the Civil Service System one of the most important elements in New Jersey employment law.

The Use of Eligible Lists in Hiring and Promotion

Candidates for initial hiring and promotion in the permanent, career, unclassified civil service are selected and appointed based on their civil-service-jobs-300x200placement on eligible lists (also referred to as “certifications”).  There are five types of eligible lists: Open competitive lists, promotional lists, regular reemployment lists, police and fire reemployment lists, and special reemployment lists.

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The key to New Jersey Civil Service hiring and promotion is the examination.  The State Constitution and New Jersey Civil Service Act require merit-based appointments based, whenever possible, on examinations.

Announcements.  The New Jersey Civil Service Commission is responsible for administrating examinations which fairly test applicants’ mulitple-choice-exam-300x200knowledge, skills and abilities for the job.  Announcements are posted on the Commission’s website, and provided by the employer. Announcements include title, salary information, admission qualifications, filing information, and duties and responsibilities. No unannounced requirements can be considered.  Applications must be filed by the announced date.  The applicant must be a resident of New Jersey and the specified local jurisdiction, unless a different residency requirement is specified or there are not enough available qualified residents.  Applicants for municipal law enforcement or firefighter positions must be under 35 for open competitive examinations, except that applicants under 45 may subtract prior law enforcement experience to meet the 35 year age requirement.  Veterans may subtract their service from their age to determine eligibility.

Types of Examinations.  Examinations may be written; oral; performance evaluation; physical performance tests; assessment exercises; and evaluation of education, training and experience.  The goal is to objectively measure an applicant’s fitness and merit.  Thus, while subjectivity in developing an examination is not forbidden, it must be limited.

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Because the purpose of the New Jersey Civil Service System is to remove politics, nepotism and favoritism from the hiring and disciplinarydisciplinary-1326277__340-300x300 processes to ensure that employment decisions are based on merit and fitness, just cause must be found for imposing discipline.  And because the employer is the government, all discipline, New Jersey’s Court’s have explained, “is governed by principles of notice, due process and fundamental fairness.” The key to this is notice and the opportunity to be heard at a hearing.

Written Notice and the Opportunity for a Hearing Before Appointing Authority

Before disciplinary action may be taken against a permanent civil service employee or during an employee’s working test period, the employee must get written notice and the opportunity for a hearing on major discipline.  This notice comes in the form of a “Preliminary Notice of Disciplinary Action” (“PNDA”).  The PNDA must set forth the charges and give a specification.  It must give the employee the opportunity for a hearing prior to major discipline. The PDNA should give the employee notice of all the charges and specifications against him so he can prepare a defense.

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Criminal charges against public employees can have serious consequences under New Jersey civil service law.  In this post, we’ll examine gavel-300x200some of those consequences.

Suspensions of New Jersey Civil Service Employees While Criminal Charges Are Pending

First, if a New Jersey civil service employee is facing criminal charges, she can be suspended while the charges are pending.  The employee must be served with a preliminary notice of disciplinary action (PNDA). The PNDA must advise her that she may be subject to being fired if the charges are upheld, and that she has the right to consult with an attorney.  The employee may request a hearing about the suspension. If no request is made within five days the appointing authority may issue a final notice of disciplinary action (FNDA). If the employee is charged with a third degree crime or higher, if she is charged with a crime of the fourth degree on the job, or if the charges are “directly related to the job,” the employee may be suspended indefinitely until the charges are resolved.

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New Jersey Civil Service law establishes procedures for hiring and promoting government employees in New Jersey state and local statehousejpg-daf3a85399187d6b-300x200government civil service jurisdictions.

Appointments

In Civil Service, “appointment” means getting a job, whether through initial hiring, promotion, transfer or otherwise.  All initial and subsequent appointments must be submitted for review and approval of the New Jersey Civil Service Commission.  The Commission will notify the employer of whether it has approved or disapproved the action, and the reasons for any disapproval.  The employer then provides written notice to the affected employees.

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The law firm of McLaughlin & Nardi, LLC, has been awarded the Equal Justice Medal by Legal Services of New Jersey for the Firm’s pro bono contributions to low income New Jersey residents.

While all of our attorneys do community service and pro bono legal services, Pauline Young by far does the most, and this award was mainly due to her.  Pauline does a wide variety of pro bono work, but concentrates on providing services which help remove barriers to employment for prisoners reentering society after their terms of incarceration have ended, most often through engagement of their criminal records.

https://www.newjerseylawyersblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/195/2019/09/equal-justice-medal.1-002-300x217.jpg
Pauline generally does her pro bono work through Legal Services of Legal Services of New Jersey and Volunteer Lawyers for Justice’s Reentry Legal Services program.

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New Jersey’s Civil Service System is designed so that government employees are hired based on their merit, not on nepotism, favoritism, cronyism, bribery or political connections. New Jersey’s Civil Service laws and regulations do this by setting up a system where candidates are tested and graded objectively against other applicants. They are then ranked according to their scores and other qualifications, and hired based on their rank. This testing and ranking system is administered by the New Jersey Civil Service Commission (formerly known as the Merit System Board).https://www.newjerseylawyersblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/195/2018/07/police-officer-sil.-300x254.png

One of the areas where merit is most critical is in the selection and hiring of law enforcement officers, given the vast powers and responsibilities our society places on their shoulders. As a result, the hiring process is significantly more intense than for the hiring of other civil service employees. In addition to a written test, there are also physical examinations and intense background screening.

All of these screening criteria can – and must be – objectively reviewed. However, one additional area of the law enforcement screening process can allow an examiner’s subjective bias to creep through into the testing results. This area is the psychological screening for candidates for New Jersey law enforcement jobs. Obviously this is a legitimate and important line of inquiry necessary before giving young men and women weapons and the power to arrest people. However, subjective biases can influence an examiner’s reading of the examination results. Continue reading

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