August 3, 2007
IN THE MATTER OF JOE ANTE, FIRE FIGHTER, CITY OF CAMDEN.
On appeal from a Final Administrative Decision of the Merit System Board, Docket No. 2005-5086.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted July 17, 2007
Before Judges Fuentes and Graves.
Joe Ante, a firefighter with the City of Camden (Camden), appeals from a final administrative determination of the Merit System Board (the Board) issued on December 8, 2005, denying his request for a retroactive date of appointment, appropriate salary step placement, vacation leave time, back pay, and other seniority-based benefits relating to the Board's final decision issued May 17, 1993. We affirm.
In its May 11, 1993 decision, the Board found Camden failed to prove Ante was mentally unfit to effectively perform as a firefighter. Therefore, the Board ordered Ante's name be restored to the eligible list, and Camden appointed him to the position of firefighter on May 9, 1994.
In a letter dated June 10, 2005, Ante asked the Board to grant him "any and all seniority-based emoluments" retroactive "to when he should have been originally certified in 1991." The Board concluded, however, that Ante's appeal was "untimely," reasoning as follows:
With regard to Camden's argument that Mr. Ante's request for enforcement is untimely, the Board notes that there is no jurisdictional statutory timeline within which a party is required to request enforcement. However, N.J.A.C. 4A:2-1.1(b) provides that an appeal must be filed within 20 days after the appellant has notice or reasonably should have known of the decision, situation or action being appealed, and N.J.A.C. 4A:1-1.2(c) provides that a rule may be relaxed for good cause. In the instant matter, Mr. Ante's name was restored to the subject eligible list following the Board's May 11, 1993 decision, and he commenced employment on May 9, 1994. He has provided absolutely no explanation regarding his failure to pursue the matter involving his appointment date for approximately 12 years. There is no indication that Mr. Ante made any effort to resolve this matter with Camden, or in any other forum, prior to petitioning the Board for relief. Further, given the passage of such a long period of time, Camden and its employees may be prejudiced by disturbing the status quo at this late date. Therefore, the Board finds that Mr. Ante's request for enforcement is untimely, and he has failed to present good cause to warrant the relaxation of N.J.A.C. 4A:2-1.1(b). Cf. In the Matter of Daniel Soto (MSB, decided August 12, 2003) (Board accepted as timely a similar request from an employee five years after decision he sought to enforce, where there was evidence that the appellant made repeated efforts to resolve the matter with the appointing authority during the intervening time period).
On appeal to this court, Ante contends his request to enforce the Board's 1993 decision "is substantially different than requesting an appeal." However, the Board's 1993 decision did not order that Ante was to be hired with a retroactive date of appointment, and the Board's determination that Ante offered no explanation for failing to pursue his claim for approximately twelve years is amply supported by the record. Thus, there has been no showing the Board's decision was arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable, and we affirm substantially for the reasons stated by the Board. See Campbell v. New Jersey Racing Comm'n, 169 N.J. 579, 587-88 (2001); Karins v. City of Atlantic City, 152 N.J. 532, 540 (1998).
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