Articles Tagged with New Jersey Employment Attorneys

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New Jersey Civil Service law give a hiring preference to “veterans” which ranks them higher on eligible lists if they otherwise meet the eligibility requirements.  This is known as the Civil Service veterans preference.

However, not everyone who is considered a “veteran” by the Federal Government, military, or Veterans Administration is eligible for the civil service veterans preference.No photo description available.  Eligible veterans include only those who received a discharge not characterized as dishonorable and who served at least 90 days in World War I and World War II, or who served at least 14 days in the operations area in the following conflicts: the Korean War; the Vietnam War; the Lebanon Crisis of 1958; the Lebanon peacekeeping mission in the 1980s; the Grenada peacekeeping mission in 1983; the Panama peacekeeping mission; Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm; Operation Northern Watch and Operation Southern Watch; Operation Restore Hope in Somalia; Operations Joint Endeavor and Joint Guard in Bosnia; Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti (if the veteran received the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for their Haitian service); Operation Enduring Freedom; and Operation Iraqi Freedom. “Veterans” also include service members receiving injuries in those operations regardless of the length of their service in them.

Disabled veterans” are “veterans” of those conflicts who receive compensation of at least ten percent for a service-connected disability arising out of those defined operations.  Certain spouses and parents are also eligible if the veteran or disabled veteran does not or cannot use the preference.

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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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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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In an important New Jersey employment law decision, the Appellate Division of the State Superior Court examined exceptions to the 90 day limit for challenging a board of education’s decision regarding a teacher’s tenure status.  In that case, Frayne v. Board of Education of the Borough of Highland Park, the Appellate Division demonstrated that the limitation period is a “hard” deadline, and missing it will likelycolumns-round-300x201 mean the teacher’s appeal will be rejected.

Background

Deana Frayne was a non-tenure track maternity leave replacement teacher for the Highland Park Board of Education from the 2008-2009 though 2011-2012 school years; thereafter she was employed as a full-time, tenure track teacher.  She signed her fourth contract as a tenure track first grade teacher for the 2015-2016 school year on May 15, 2015.   However, on June 25, 2015, she was served with a letter advising that the Board believed that she did not have tenure and that her employment would be terminated effective August 23, 2015 based on performance, behavior and attendance.  The Board offered her an agreement ending her tenure track employment, giving her sixty days health benefits and salary in exchange for a release.  She did not sign.  She then received a Rice Notice, and on August 23, 2015, the Board voted unanimously to terminate Frayne’s employment.

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Background: Disability Discrimination and the Requirement of Reasonable Accommodation

New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination bars employers from discriminating against employee’s because of a disability, provided they can perform the job with “reasonable accommodation.”  Because no two employees or workplaces are the same, no accommodations will be the same for two employees, or reasonable for different employers.  Thus, the regulations interpreting this requirement in the Law Againstwheelchair-1595794__340-300x200 Discrimination require that employers must engage in an “interactive process” with a disabled employee to explore whether there are accommodations which the employer could implement to assist her in performing her duties without imposing an undue hardship on the employer.

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently explored these issues in the case of Richter vs. Oakland Board of Education.

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The State Supreme Court recently issued an important decision concerning New Jersey employment law.  In the case of Pritchett v. State, the Court confirmed that punitive damages are available against public employers under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination andjustice-2060093_960_720-300x200 whistleblower protection laws, and defined the heightened standard under which trial judges must review such awards.

Background

Shelly Pritchett was a New Jersey State corrections officer.  She suffered injuries breaking up a fight between two inmates.  She received medical treatment and went on workers compensation leave.  She recovered from the injuries, but during her treatment it was discovered that she might be in the early stages of multiple sclerosis (MS).  She requested unpaid leave.  Her captain wanted to deny the leave, but was advised by human resources, her supervisor and the facility’s deputy executive director of operations that the leave should be approved.  While the captain remained adamantly against it, the leave was approved.  However, Pritchett was told that no further extensions would be granted.

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The law invests law enforcement officers with significant authority.  New Jersey employment law therefore imposes on them a high standard of conduct. stone-judge-778488-m-thumb-240x320-71245-thumb-220x293-71246-thumb-220x293-71247 And while progressive discipline governs the review of disciplinary infractions, particularly in the civil service context, serious offenses can result in termination even for a first offense.  Sometimes these cases are close calls; some are not.  A New Jersey appeals court recently examined these principles in the case of In the Matter of Ruiz, City of Perth Amboy, Department of Public Safety.  The case is a good examination of some of these legal principles, even though the court found that it wasn’t a close call.

Background

Benjamin Ruiz was police chief for Perth Amboy, New Jersey, a civil service jurisdiction.  After being charged in 2014, he was indicted on February 6, 2015 for official misconduct, theft of services and witness tampering.  He was suspended with pay and required to turn in his badge and gun.  He was acquitted by a jury of all charges on September 20, 2016.

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A recent New Jersey employment law decision by the Appellate Division of the State Superior Court in the case of Matter of Brian Clancy, illustrates the procedures – and some of the pitfalls – of appeals from the removal of candidates from civil service eligible lists.imagesCAWQ89PS

Background: Removal from the Eligible List

Clancy hoped to become a sheriff’s officer with the Bergen County Sheriff’s Officer, a civil service employer.  He took the civil service exam, passed, and was placed on the eligible list.  Thereafter, the Sheriff’s Office conducted a routine pre-employment background investigation, which is normal procedure after a candidate for a law enforcement officer position is placed on an eligible list for an agency.  Based on the results of the investigation, the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office removed Clancy’s name from the eligible list.

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In an important employment law decision, New Jersey’s Supreme Court once again considered the actions necessary to constitute illegal workplace harassment in the case of Rios v. Meda Pharmaceutical, Inc.  In this case the alleged harassment was based on an employee’s racecolumns-round-300x201 and ethnicity in violation of New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination.

Background

New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination prohibits workplace discrimination because an employee’s protected characteristic, including the employee’s:

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