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Camden Organization of Police Superiors v. City of Camden

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

August 20, 2013

CAMDEN ORGANIZATION OF POLICE SUPERIORS, SUSO DAVILA, JAVON KYSER, KEVIN SMITH, DAVID WEITZEL, WILLIAM FRETT, FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE LODGE #1, RONALD COLEMAN, JOSEPH RIVERA, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
THE CITY OF CAMDEN, CHRISTINE JONES-TUCKER, NEW JERSEY CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, Defendants-Respondents, and MAYOR DANA REDD, POLICE CHIEF JOHN SCOTT THOMSON, ROBERT M. CZECH, NEW JERSEY MERIT SYSTEM BOARD, Defendants.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted July 16, 2013.

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County, Docket No. L-0280-11 and the New Jersey Civil Service Commission, CSC Nos. 2011-3146, 2011-3148, 2011-3174, 2011-3198, 2011-3199, 2011-3200 and 2011-3203.

Oandasan & Cooper, P.C., attorneys for appellants (Cheryl L. Cooper, on the brief).

John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney for respondent New Jersey Civil Service Commission (Lewis A. Scheindlin, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Lisa Dorio Ruch, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).

Marc A. Riondino, City Attorney, attorney for respondent City of Camden (Jason J. Asuncion, Assistant City Attorney, on the brief).

Before Judges Ashrafi and St. John.

PER CURIAM.

Camden Organization of Police Superiors (COPS), Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #1 (FOP), Suso Davila, Javon Kyser, Kevin Smith, Ronald Coleman, David Weitzel, William Frett and Joseph Rivera appeal from a January 26, 2011 order of the Law Division and from two final agency determinations of the New Jersey Civil Service Commission (CSC) dated December 22, 2011. Following our review of the arguments advanced on appeal, in light of the record and applicable law, we affirm.

I.

The record discloses the following facts and procedural history leading to the determinations under review.

On November 8, 2010, the City of Camden (the City) submitted a layoff plan to the CSC's Division of State and Local Operations (SLO) to lay off employees in various departments, including the police department, effective January 18, 2011. On November 30, 2010, the CSC approved the plan. The CSC advised the City to notify affected employees no later than December 3, 2010. On December 2, 2010, the City posted general notice of the layoff in areas of the police department. In addition, on December 3, 2010, the City personally served or sent certified and ordinary mail to employees who would be affected by the layoff (targeted employees).

Pursuant to N.J.A.C. 4A:8-1.6, an employee who is going to be laid off or demoted pursuant to a layoff plan (i.e., a targeted employee) is entitled to be served with written notice personally, unless the employee is unavailable, in which case the employee may be served by certified mail. In addition, the employer must post general notice conspicuously in all affected facilities of the layoff unit. N.J.A.C. 4A:8-1.6. A permanent employee slated for demotion or layoff, may exercise "displacement rights" against other employees in the layoff unit who hold a position with the same or lower title. N.J.A.C. 4A:8-2.1

As a result of the layoff plan, three permanent Camden police lieutenants were laid off from their positions, and they were given rights to displace Suso Davila, Javon Kyzer and Kevin Smith who until that point had held the positions of police sergeant. Davila, Kyzer and Smith, in turn, were demoted and given the right to displace three individuals who had held the position of police officer. In addition, a police sergeant displaced police officer Joseph D. Rivera, and he was ultimately laid off. Even though Davila, Kyzer, Smith, and Rivera had been affected by the displacement rights of other employees, because they were not targeted, i.e., named in the layoff plan, they were not personally served or sent certified mail forty-five days in advance. Instead, they received notice on or about January 11, 2011. City police officers Ronald Coleman, William Frett, and David Weitzel also were ...


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