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McLaughlin & Nardi, LLC Attorneys Successfully Reversed a Decision to Remove an Applicant from a Civil Service List for Appointment as a Jersey City Police Officer

Police Car, White Male, 3D Model

On December 6, 2019, the New Jersey Civil Service Commission recently reviewed and rescinded its September 5, 2018 decision which removed an applicant’s name from an eligible list for Jersey City police officer. The case was argued by Maurice W. McLaughlin, Esq., and Robert K. Chewning, Esq.

After the Civil Service Commission made its September 5, 2018 decision, the applicant was required to file an appeal in the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey. On appeal, the applicant argued that the Civil Service Commission’s decision was arbitrary, capricious, and constituted an abuse of discretion based on the evidence which established the applicant’s Jersey City residence prior to the August 31, 2016 announced closing date through the date until the present.

The Appellate Division remanded the case to the Civil Service Commission to review the factual record and reconsider its prior decision. On remand, the Civil Service Commission found: (1) that appellant had established by a preponderance of the evidence that he had lived in Jersey City as of the August 31, 2016 closing date; and (2) that the Civil Service Commission had previously erred in reviewing relevant documents including applicant’s motor vehicle address change form, driver’s license, and lease agreement. A copy of the New Jersey Civil Service Commission’s decision can be found here.

As a result, the Civil Service Commission vacated its prior decision, restored the applicant’s name to the subject eligibility list, and revived that list for the applicant to be considered for appointment for prospective employment opportunities.

The major takeaways from this case for individuals applying for civil service positions that have residency requirements are:
(1) Do not take your residence for granted. While establishing your residence may seem like common sense, it can be more difficult to prove than you think. Our previous blog post “Civil Service Commission: List Removal Appeals & Residency Requirements” goes over the factors that the Civil Service Commission’s regulations set forth for establishing an applicant’s residence.

(2) Do your due diligence to immediately document any change in your residence. For example, make sure your address is updated at the Motor Vehicle Commission, at your employer, for your voter registration, on all tax related documents, and on all bills that you receive. This was a problem in the above-mentioned matter because the applicant had a tax return and W-2 form that listed his prior address. Fortunately, the applicant updated his address on his driver’s license and voter’s registration identification immediately upon moving to Jersey City, which was part of the evidence that the Civil Service Commission used to ultimately restore his name back to the eligible list.

(3) Evidence is key in Civil Service Commission appeals. In this case, notarized statements submitted by the applicant’s landlords and prior co-tenants in support of the applicant helped establish the applicant’s Jersey City residence. These statements, which were submitted separate from the applicant’s background investigation done by Jersey City, helped the applicant overcome the inconsistencies that may have arose as a result of the applicant’s incorrectly addressed tax return and W-2.

Our New Jersey employment law attorneys can help advise applicants regarding potential civil service appeals, list removal appeals, and general questions regarding residency within a particular civil service jurisdiction. To set up a consultation with one of our attorneys, please call (973) 890-0004 or e-mail us. We can help.