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Jones v. College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

Decided: December 29, 1977.


Matthews, Crane and Antell.

Per Curiam

[155 NJSuper Page 233] Presented for review is a determination of employment discrimination made by the Director of the Division of Civil Rights under the Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 et seq. The Director decided that

appellants had denied respondent, who is black, appointment to the position of security officer in the College of Medicine and Dentistry "on account of his race." He ordered, among other things, that respondent be immediately promoted to the position with full seniority and money damages based on pay differentials, pain and humiliation.

Respondent was first hired by appellant as a custodian on October 25, 1973. He later learned of an opening on the security staff and in December 1973 submitted his application therefor to David Martz, a personnel assistant. Before the application could be further processed it was necessary for respondent to obtain the approval of his supervisor in the custodian's department. Approval was given and Martz then referred respondent to Gordon Currie, the security staff supervisor who recommended all hiring for that department. Currie interviewed respondent on December 18, 1977. The opening had already been filled by Brian Clark, a white, who applied December 4, but other openings were expected.

Although Currie was favorably impressed by respondent, his application was placed on "hold" because, as respondent understood, Currie also intended to interview others. These turned out to include Edmund Munden, who applied on January 2, 1974, and Monica Sheehan, whose application was received January 8, 1974. Munden, who is white, was hired to begin work on January 16, 1974 and Sheehan, also white, was hired to begin March 11, 1974. David Gutierrez, an Hispanic male, was interviewed on January 21, 1974 and hired to fill an opening in June 1974. While respondent's application was pending appellant was publicly advertising the job vacancies as they occurred and sending announcements to community agencies that were in a position to encourage applications by "protected class" members. The latter group includes minorities and others who have historically been underrepresented in particular employment situations. Munden, as a male over 40, and Sheehan, as a female, are both members of the protected class under standards promulgated

by the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

It was respondent's understanding and, although there was disagreement among the witnesses on the point, the Director found that applications from within the ranks of college employees were usually favored over those from without. Munden, Sheehan and Gutierrez were outsiders.

Between the time of his interview with Currie on December 18 and the time he resigned from his job on May 3, 1974, respondent asked Martz a number of times for the status of his application. Martz was noncommittal, made promises to speak with Currie and "get back" to respondent which were never kept, and was neglectful of respondent's application. The Director could properly have concluded, as he did, that Martz' conduct was evasive and dilatory, notwithstanding the explanations which the latter offered that the work of his office was impaired around that time by illness and resignations.

Currie, in explaining why he favored Munden and Sheehan over respondent, stated that in Munden's case he was impressed by his mechanical experience which, he felt, contributed to his potential for handling the job and, in Sheehan's case, by her previous experience in dealing with emotionally disturbed people. The Director found that respondent would have been able to show comparable experience if this information had been solicited. He found great significance in the fact that Currie did not reinterview respondent to investigate his background further or examine his original application for employment which was on file with the personnel department. The practice was to take written applications for vacant positions from candidates outside the college, but not from those who were already employed. Thus, the only information about respondent Currie ever received was what emerged during the personal interview.

Respondent impressed Currie favorably and he was described as "a highly motivated individual with a good military background" who "would be a good candidate for

the force." However, by April 1974 Currie learned of an absentee problem that had developed in respondent's work as a custodian, and by memorandum dated April 15, 1974 rejected his application. Thereupon respondent severed his employment with the college. At his exit interview with Martz he was told that his application had been turned down with regret, but ...

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