For denial and remand -- Chief Justice Weintraub and Justices Jacobs, Francis, Proctor, Hall, Schettino and Mountain. Opposed -- None. The opinion of the Court was delivered by Jacobs, J.
The Civil Service Commission, acting on the recommendation of the Hay Appeals Board, determined that the compensation allocated to the title of Senior Appeals Examiner, Department of Labor and Industry, be increased by one range. Being dissatisfied with this determination and seeking an increase of more than one range, the Senior Appeals Examiners filed notice of appeal to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court. Thereafter the Attorney General, representing the Civil Service Commission, moved to dismiss the appeal and we certified, directing the parties to confine their briefs and argument to the single legal issue of appealability raised by the motion to dismiss.
Acting under statutory authority, the Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting in the Department of the Treasury, with the approval of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the General Assembly, entered into a contract with the management consulting firm of Edward N. Hay and Associates to conduct a thorough study of wages, work productivity and working conditions in State employment with the end in view of providing the Governor and Legislature with standards and guidelines for use in the preparation of budgets and appropriation acts "that will permit fair treatment of State employees and permit the State to gain and maintain a competitive position in its recruitment and retention of employees." L. 1968, c. 304; N.J.S.A. 52:14-17.50. The study was duly conducted and the comprehensive Hay Report was issued in April 1970. Thereafter the Department of Civil Service made an independent review of the report and made numerous adjustments in its compensation plan. The plan as modified was formally presented to the Civil Service Commission and in July 1970 the Commission adopted it for all employees in the State classified civil service. At the same time it announced that
it would thereafter "promulgate an appeals procedure for hearing employees grievances arising from the approved State Compensation Plan based on the Modified Hay and Associates Report."
The procedure established by the Commission contemplated that employees could appeal the salary ranges allocated to their class titles to an Appeals Board of three persons -- "a Civil Service Department employee, the personnel officer of the department where the appellant is employed, and a third member who is knowledgeable about salary matters and understanding of State employees' salary needs and aspirations." It further contemplated that the Appeals Board would hold hearings and make recommendations to the Civil Service Commission for its ultimate determination. On July 13, 1970 the President of the Department of Civil Service advised all department heads that State employees could appeal to the Hay Appeals Board from the salary ranges assigned to their class titles, that the employee grievances could be discussed at hearings to be scheduled by the Board, that the Board would "submit its recommendations to the Civil Service Commission for approval, modification, or rejection" and that the employees involved would be given "written notice of the Commission's decision."
On July 17, 1970 the Governor addressed a letter to all State employees in which, after referring to the fact that the Legislature had appropriated $30,000,000 for salary increases (L. 1970, c. 96, p. 474), he pointed out that pursuant to the Modified Hay Report 36,000 employees had received increments in salary ranges, that less than 4,000 had remained in their old ranges, and that less than 600 were allocated to lower ranges. Those allocated to lower ranges did not suffer any actual reduction in compensation. Referring to the Hay Appeals Board the Governor noted that he would insist that the Board be "prompt, fair, and understanding in its review of every case." On October 5, 1970 the President of the Department of Civil Service advised all
department heads as to the procedure before the Hay Appeals Board. He noted that "the hearings will be of an informal nature and the proceedings will not be adversary," that the Board will make inquiries into the facts and "will make recommendations to the Civil Service Commission, which alone is empowered to make decisions on salary range allocations."
On October 15, 1970 the Civil Service Department's Deputy Chief Examiner and Secretary issued internal management procedural instructions with respect to the functioning of the Hay Appeals Board. He there outlined the appeals procedures and noted, inter alia, that the Board would make an attempt to review the title on the basis of (a) "information supplied by the appellant," (b) the "education experience requirements necessary for the position," (c) "the duties and responsibilities of the position," (d) "the individual expertise which each Board member brings to the Board," and (e) "information received from the Division of Classification State Service and the Division of Research and Planning." After pointing out that "recommendations regarding titles in one department, might have a 'ripple effect' on titles in other departments," he noted that the Board would meet after all single titles from all departments had been heard and that at that meeting the Board would review all recommendations and make "a final recommendation to the Civil Service Commission (as) to the appropriateness of the salary ranges assigned to each title that was appealed before it."
After all of the 673 hearings before the Board were concluded it made its recommendations and transmitted them to the Commission which adopted them as its own. In a release dated April 4, 1971 the Commission disclosed the following: "There were 850 job titles involved in the 5,791 individual appeals from the Modified Hay Report. Of the 850 titles, 127 were increased by one range; 31 were increased by two ranges; 7 were increased by three ranges; and there was one title with an increase of four ranges.
These job titles involved 1,538 appellants, but 2,313 employees serving in these titles will receive increases. In 687 titles, it was determined that no change was indicated."
The appeal of the Senior Appeals Examiners was heard by the Hay Appeals Board on December 11, 1970. The record of the hearing includes various documentary materials and oral statements submitted by the Examiners in support of their appeal and their request for a higher salary range. On March 25, 1971 the Appeals Board recommended that "the present salary range 33 assigned to the title of Senior Appeals Examiner, Labor & Industry be increased one range." At the same time the Board recommended "that the title of Appeals Examiner be increased one range to 31" and that the "three range differential should be maintained." On March 30, 1971 the Civil Service Commission approved the recommendation that the salary range of Senior Appeals Examiners be increased from 33 to 34; the salary scale of range 34 is $12,603-$16,383. Following some correspondence the Senior Appeals Examiners were advised by the Hay Appeals Board in a letter dated June 8, 1971 ...