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Cipriano v. Department of Civil Service

Decided: June 30, 1977.

LEONARD CIPRIANO, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL SERVICE OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT



Carton, Kole and Larner. The opinion of the court was delivered by Carton, P.J.A.D.

Carton

Appellant Leonard Cipriano appeals a determination of the Civil Service Commission voiding his permanent status in the job title of Operator, Refrigeration Services, in the Department of Labor and Industry.

Cipriano was employed in a temporary capacity as a Safety Inspector in the Department of Labor and Industry from August 4, 1969 until February 15, 1972, when he was laid off. In March 1972 the Department rehired him as a Safety Inspector under the Federal Emergency Employment Act (EEA). Emergency Employment Act of 1971, § 1 et seq. , 42 U.S.C.A. , § 4871 et seq.*fn1

This was a provisional appointment under the EEA program and, although Cipriano was a state employee, he was being paid with federal funds.

The objective of EEA was to provide "unemployed and underemployed persons with transitional employment in jobs providing needed public services during times of high unemployment and * * * related training and manpower services to enable such persons to move into employment or training not supported under [the EEA]." 42 U.S.C.A. , § 4871; 29 U.S.C.A. , § 841. After he was rehired in 1972 Cipriano was advised by the Assistant Director of Employment Services in the Department, through one of her staff personnel, to apply for any permanent Civil Service position whose qualifications he could meet. Accordingly, he applied for, took and passed a Civil Service examination for the position of Operator, Refrigeration Services. However, for reasons which are not clear from the record, Cipriano never applied to convert his temporary job as Safety Inspector to a permanent appointment.

Through efforts of the Department of Labor and Industry and the Administrator of EEA, and with Cipriano's consent, he was transferred, on paper only, to Stockton State College for six months beginning March 1973. Stockton State College was chosen because it had a vacancy in the title of Operator, Refrigeration Services, the position for which Cipriano had qualified. However, Cipriano continued to perform his job as Safety Inspector for the Department of Labor and Industry and never actually worked at the Stockton job.

After the six-month working test period ended on September 17, 1973, Cipriano was, for record purposes, transferred back to the Department of Labor and Industry and assumed permanent status in the title of Operator, Refrigeration Services. Soon after, the Department requested

Civil Service to change Cipriano's permanent title from Operator, Refrigeration Services to Safety Inspector. Civil Service granted him provisional status in the Safety Inspector job, and he subsequently took and passed a qualifying examination for that position. However, before Cipriano could complete the working test period for Safety Inspector, he was laid off for economic reasons in April 1975.

Shortly thereafter, Civil Service raised questions about the legitimacy of Cipriano's permanent status as Operator, Refrigeration Services, essentially because he never actually completed the working test period in that position. After a hearing a Civil Service hearing officer concluded that the working test period was an essential part of the Civil Service qualifications for the Refrigeration Services job and that Cipriano failed to fulfill that requirement. The hearing officer recommended voiding Cipriano's permanent status in the Refrigeration Services job, and Civil Service adopted that recommendation.

N.J.S.A. 11:12-1 requires that an employment candidate, in addition to passing a competitive examination as required by N.J.S.A. 11:9-1 et seq. , must satisfactorily complete a working test period before acquiring permanent status. The statute provides in part:

Appointments and promotions to positions in the competitive * * * service shall be for a probationary period of four months, which may be extended ...


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