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The Appellate Division recently issued a Nhttps://www.newjerseylawyersblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/195/2022/02/joe-b-2..2jpg-200x300.jpgew Jersey employment law decision in the case of Levis v. City of Hackensack which should be instructive to New Jerseycivil service employees settling disciplinary charges.

Background

Richard Levis was a lieutenant on the Hackensack Police Department a civil service jurisdiction.  He filed suit against Hackensack for breaching the terms of a settlement agreement resolving earlier disciplinary charges against him.

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Under the New Jersey public employment law and Title 18A of New Jersey statute, which governs New Jersey employment law for public school and public college employees, if an employee is actually performing the work of a particular position, even though they are designated in another, they must receive the compensation for the job they are working in.  In other words, public employers can’t underpay employeesbully-3233568__340-300x272 by having them fill a higher or more difficult position while paying them for a lower or less difficult one.  The Appellate Division recently examined these statutes.

The De Facto Employee Laws

Title 18A provides that:

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In General. The New Jersey Civil Service Act establishes three classes of civil service employees: Career (or “classified”), unclassified and, in State service, the Senior Executive Service.   The New Jersey Civil Service Commission has the job of classifying positions – it is the positions which are classified, not people. tenure-thumb-170x110-48818

Classification.  Each position in the career and unclassified services are then assigned to a job title by the Commission.  It specifies the qualifications, duties and responsibilities for each title.  It does this through a classification plan for all State government positions and similar plans for political subdivisions.  When necessary, the Commission will modify specifications to ensure their accuracy.  It is also responsible for notifying appointing authorities and employees of changes in classification plans which effect them.

Public employees in New Jersey Civil Service  must be appointed under a title which corresponds to the duties which the employee actually performs.  The employer’s authority to assign terms of office or employment is a limited by the terms of the classification plan. Appointing authorities are required to notify the Commission of new positions, organizational changes, or changes to employee responsibilities; they must annually submit updated organizational charts.  In State service, the negotiations representative (ie., the union) must be given notice of changes to the plan, including: reorganizations of titles or title series, or requests for new ones; request for reevaluation of job content; requests for modification of job specifications; and changes to flextime programs, alternate workweek programs and or hours.

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The Civil Service Commission

The New Jersey Civil Service System is governed by the Civil Service Act and Civil Service Regulations.  Chapter 2 of Title 11A of the Civil Service Act, N.J.S.A. 11A:2-1, et seq., establishes the  New Jersey Civil Service Commission (thestone-judge-778488-m-thumb-240x320-71245-thumb-220x293-71246-thumb-220x293-71247 “Commission”).   The Commission is a department of the executive branch of the New Jersey State Government.  Administratively it is part of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Nonetheless, it operates as an independent agency.  It is free from control of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

The Commission has five members.  Three members are required for a forum.  This has led to a backlog of cases when less than three have been appointed.

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Some complain that civil service hinders efficient government.  Managers object that it limits their ability to run their organizations by hiring, firing and imposing discipline as they believe best.  Citizens argue it makes it too hard to get rid of “bad apples.”  Employees believe it makes promotions and transfers too difficult.  Applicants think the system makes it too hard to get hired.  All these criticisms are valid, to a point. megaphone-1480342__340-300x200 However, they miss the mark because they focus on the trees but miss the forest.  Life is a series of tradeoffs; every decision is a cost/benefit analysis.

New Jersey’s Civil Service System was adopted to combat grave problems with state and local government.  New Jersey has a long history of government corruption; it is by no means a new phenomenon.  This history includes a “spoils system” which gave election winners the power to award jobs to their supporters, bribery, favoritism, nepotism, cronyism and discrimination in hiring and keeping government jobs.  It was a disgrace.  New Jersey was – and is – hardly alone in these problems, but New Jersey took it to another level. Without civil service these problems would continue unchecked.  It’s not perfect, but New Jersey is a far better place because of civil service.

In 1908, the early Twentieth Century Progressive Movement led New Jersey to adopt its first civil service laws, and to establish the Civil Service Commission to regulate civil service practices.  Then, in 1947, a constitutional convention was held at Rutgers University, in which a new Constitution was adopted.  The goal of the constitutional convention was to reform many areas of New Jersey’s state and local government.  Article VII, section 1 of the New Jersey Constitution of 1947 provided that:

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New Jersey business law gives owners the ability to choose between different forms of entities to meet their particular concerns.  The choice is important and has long lasting effects.  Below is ansmall-business-300x215 overview of the basic types of business entities allowed by New Jersey business law.

General Partnership

A general partnership is an entity where two or more people own a single business and have not formed any other form of business entity.  The partners own the business and are personally responsible for the business’s debts and obligations, so if the business goes out of business they partners must still pay the business’s debts.  A partnership may be “de facto,” where the partners are acting together but have taken no steps to formalize their relationship; or it may be “de jure,” where they have formalized their relationship and how the business will be run.  There is no income tax at the entity level in a general partnership, meaning there is more revenue to be distributed as profit to the owners.  While a de facto partnership will exist without a partnership agreement, it is important to have a well written partnership agreement to ensure the smooth operation of the business and to avoid disputes between the owners.

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In an important New Jersey employment law ruling, the State Supreme Court held that an employer’s decision to terminate or otherwise take action against an employee influenced by the discriminatory bias of a subordinate, rather than the decisionmakers themselves, nonethelessgavel-300x200 violates the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.

Background: Meade’s Employment

In the case of Michele Meade vs. the Township of Livingston, the Court explained that Michele Meade was the Township Manger for Livingston Township from 2015 until she was terminated by the Township Council in 2016.  She was the first female Township Manager in Livingston’s history.  She was replaced by a male candidate although there were female candidates, and when her replacement quit he was replaced by another male candidate.

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Owners often choose to form their businesses as corporations or limited liability companies under New Jersey business law.  The case of Colonial Records Storage, LLC v. Simpson, where a creditor tried to get individual liability against a lawyer who was a shareholder in a law firm operating as a corporation, illustrates exactly why.

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Background

The law firm of Stein Simpson & Rosen was a New Jersey professional corporation; Nancy Simpson was an attorney with the firm and was a shareholder, or owner.  A professional corporation operates under the same rules as a regular corporation, except that a professional corporation provides professional services such as those of lawyers, doctors, etc., and the shareholders may be personally liable for professional negligence, or malpractice in the course of providing those professional services.  The law firm went out of business, although it had not formally dissolved.  Simpson retired.

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A recent appellate New Jersey employment law decision in the case of In the Matter of F.S., Police Officer (S9999U), City of Jersey City outlines the procedures for appeals by applicants who were removed from a list of eligible candidates for civil service law enforcement orjoe-b-300x200 firefighter positions for psychological reasons.  While the candidate lost his appeal, the Appellate Division’s opinion should give candidates faith that they will receive a fair shake before the Medical Review Panel and New Jersey Civil Service Commission.

F.S.’s Application with the Jersey City Police Department

F.S. passed the civil service test and received a conditional offer of employment to become a police officer with the Jersey City Police Department, a civil service employer.  The offer was conditioned upon F.S.’s successful completion of a psychological examination.

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The Increase

New Jersey’s minimum wage rate is going up again.  The new minimum wage rate during this incremental increase is $13 per hour effective January 1, 2022.stock-photo-20612112-woman-leading-business-team

Background

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