On appeal from the State of New Jersey Department of Personnel, DOP Docket No. 2006-1626.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Skillman and LeWinn.
Appellant Anthony Matarazzo was an officer in the Hudson County Corrections Department (the Department) for approximately thirteen years, until his removal from employment as of December 23, 2005. Appellant was charged with numerous violations of the Department's overtime policy that culminated in his termination.
This policy was originally issued in October 1999 and reissued in January 2004. It created a "dual-track disciplinary system whereby discipline for mandatory overtime will be considered progressive discipline solely for mandatory overtime offenses. . . ." The policy set forth the following "SCHEDULE OF DISCIPLINE":
First Offense: Staff member will receive a written warning of refusal for mandatory overtime.
Second Offense: Staff member will be fined one (1) days pay.
Third Offense: Staff member will be fined three (3) days pay.
Fourth Offense: Staff member will be fined six (6) days pay.
Fifth Offense: Staff member will be fined ten (10) days pay.
Sixth Offense: Staff member will receive a thirty (30) days suspension without pay.
Seventh Offense: Staff member will be terminated.
When overtime duty is required, the Department first solicits volunteers. In the absence of volunteers, the Department selects individuals from a roster of eligible officers on a rotating basis, to ensure that overtime duty is equally allocated. Under the mandatory overtime policy, an officer may be excused from overtime duty for medical reasons or an emergency as defined in the officers' union contract. If an officer accepts the overtime assignment, he or she is then moved to the bottom of the eligibility list; however, if the officer refuses, or is excused from, an overtime assignment, he or she will remain at the top of the eligible list.
The record of appellant's refusals of mandatory overtime assignments is as follows. On March 4, 2005, appellant refused mandatory overtime but provided no reason or explanatory documentation. On March 5, 2005, appellant refused overtime to attend an Italian American Police Society dinner for which he had purchased tickets in advance. On March 11, 12 and 18, 2005, appellant again refused mandatory overtime with no reason or explanatory documentation provided. On March 26, 2005, appellant refused overtime to attend an Easter vigil and subsequently provided documentation from his church.
On March 31, 2005, Captain Stevette Scott, the manager on appellant's unit, issued him a written warning for the four refusals on March 4, 11, 12, and 18, 2005. Scott had been assigned to manage appellant's unit in February 2005.
On April 1 and 2, 2005 appellant refused mandatory overtime, again with no reason or supporting documentation provided. On April 16, 2005, appellant refused overtime because of claimed child care responsibilities; however he provided no documentation. On May 10, 2005, appellant was disciplined with a one-day's salary forfeiture, for his April 1 and 2 refusals.
On May 20, 2005, Scott filed a request for a disciplinary hearing for appellant's overtime refusal on April 16, 2005; appellant received a ...