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State v. Richford

Decided: July 21, 1978.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS, APPELLANT,
v.
DOROTHY RICHFORD, DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL SERVICE, AND THE DEPARTMENT OF INSTITUTIONS AND AGENCIES, RESPONDENTS



On appeal from New Jersey Department of Civil Service, Civil Service Commission.

Fritz, Ard and Gaulkin. The opinion of the court was delivered by Fritz, P.J.A.D.

Fritz

This is an appeal by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) from an order of the Civil Service Commission (Commission) directing the AOC to restore Dorothy Richford "to Senior Clerk with permanent status and back pay in Judiciary."

The factual background is complicated and in some areas not completely clear. Enough appears undisputed, however, that we will undertake to determine the matter without remand.

In late 1973 Richford was a tenured civil servant employed by the Department of Human Services (DHS) as a Senior Statistical Clerk. She took and passed an open competitive examination for Senior Clerk Bookkeeper. Having thus qualified for that position and consequently appearing on a

"Certification of Eligibles for Appointment," she moved to the AOC. It is not without some significance that the position of Senior Statistical Clerk did not then (and does not now) exist in the AOC. Richford was employed as a Senior Clerk Bookkeeper, the position for appointment to which she qualified by virtue of the examination.

The working test period (N.J.S.A. 11:12-1; N.J.A.C. 4:1-13.1) proved unsuccessful and Richford was released. She appealed this separation to the Civil Service Commission.

It is at this point that the record below becomes very fuzzy. It does appear that there was communication between a union representative for Richford and the Commission regarding Richford's rights. As a result, the Commission advised that representative:

The difficulty with this approach was that the position of Richford's "former permanent title," Senior Statistical Clerk, did not exist in the AOC. Undaunted, the Commission wrote the AOC:

We are in receipt of a request for a hearing from Mrs. Dorothy Richford, regarding her termination at the end of the working test period from the position of Senior Clerk Bookkeeper.

In the course of reviewing this request, it has come to our attention that Mrs. Richford transferred to your Department in the RA title of Senior Statistical Clerk. Since she had permanent status when she transferred to your Department she should have been returned to her former RA title when she was terminated from the position of Senior Clerk Bookkeeper.

Please arrange to re-instate this employee without delay. As you do not use the title Senior Statistical Clerk in your agency, Mrs. Richford should be offered a position of Senior Clerk. Should you not have a Senior Clerk vacancy, please notify this office immediately and we will determine the bumping rights of Mrs. Richford.

It is to be remembered that Richford's appeal from her dismissal as a Senior Clerk Bookkeeper was still pending.

We are told by both parties in the briefs before us, without documentation, that attempts were made "to settle the matter." Both parties also agree, although nothing at all appears in the record before us in this respect, that it was settled by the agreement of the AOC to employ Richford "in the same or comparable position she formerly held ...


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