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New Jersey’s Civil Service System was enacted to keep politics, discrimination, favoritism out of employment decisions.  Therefore, civil service employees may only be disciplined for “just cause.”  The New Jersey and Federal Constitutions require that before any  government body may take action against anyone they must receive due process, which is notice, the right to be heard, and fundamental fairness.  Since government employers, even acting in their role as employers, are still the government, tenure-thumb-170x110-48818 employees must receive due process before they can be disciplined.  The New Jersey Civil Service Act and the Civil Service Commission’s regulations implementing it provide that due process to employees.

Written Notice and the Opportunity for a Hearing 

When a government employer wants to discipline a civil service a permanent, career service employee or an employee in a working test period, it must give the employee written notice of the charges and specifications alleged against her (specifications are a statement of the facts underlying the charges) and the opportunity for a hearing at the employer level by the governmental jurisdiction or its designee.  The employer must hold the hearing within 30 days of the notice unless the employee waives her right it.

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Current estate tax law demonstrates why it is so important to consult with a New Jersey estate administration and planning attorney.

A deceased individual’s estate is entitled to an exemption from Federal Estate Taxagreement-3476369__340-300x217 currently in the amount of $12,060,000.00.  However, since a surviving spouse pays no Federal Estate Tax on inheritances from the deceased spouse, the surviving spouse is permitted to claim the deceased spouse’s exemption for use upon the death of the surviving spouse.  When creating an estate plan and upon the death of the first spouse, a New Jersey estate attorney must consider whether the surviving spouse would benefit from claiming the deceased spouse’s exemption.  In order to claim that exemption, a Federal Form 706 Estate Tax must be prepared and filed.

The surviving spouse and her estate attorney must decide if it is beneficial to use the estate tax exemption of the first spouse to die at that time.  The decedent spouse’s estate may be valued far in excess of the exemption amount, and the deceased spouse’s exemption should be used to create a credit shelter trust that will allow assets to appreciate and accumulate outside the surviving spouse’s estate.

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Background.   New Jersey Civil Service exists remove favoritism, nepotism, politics and other improper considerations from employment decisions.  This includes Civil Service discipline.  Because Civil Service employers are governmental entities, due process and fundamental fairness protections govern discipline.supreme-administrative-court-3565618_960_720-300x200

As far back as 1961, the Appellate Division gave a good summary of Civil Service disciplinary procedures.

Disciplinary proceedings against a civil servant are not only an attempt to determine the status of a particular individual; they are a statutorily authorized action to redress a wrong committed against the people of the State by one in whom the public trust has been officially reposed. The proceedings are therefore penal, or at least quasi-penal, in nature, and deeply embedded constructional principles, supported by fundamental notions of fairness, dictate that in such an action the statute or regulation defining the alleged violation be construed to comport with the fair meaning of the language used. The theme of fairness threads its way through the notice, hearing, and right of appeal provisions of our Civil Service Act, and finds particular pertinence in those sections requiring that the causes for removal constituting ‘just cause’ be enumerated with specificity. The governing consideration, that one be fairly and completely advised of the nature of the charges against him, loses all effectiveness if it is not reinforced by a requirement that the proscribed activities and contingencies warranting disciplinary proceedings be set forth with reasonable particularity and construed accordingly.

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The Appellate Division recently issued a N 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.


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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