In re Young

The New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed the Civil Service Commission’s decision, which dismissed Young’s administrative appeal. Young works as a painter at the Woodbine Developmental Center. He received a Preliminary Notice of Disciplinary Action, which announced a 15-day suspension because he emailed another public employee, disparaging the person as a “loser”. Young appealed and received a hearing date. Exercising “managerial discretion,” the Department of Human Service reconsidered Young’s penalty and – three months before the hearing – reduced his suspension to five days. Because the penalty no longer exceeded a five-day suspension, the Department claimed the matter was rendered a minor disciplinary action under the governing statutes and regulations, divesting the Commission of jurisdiction and eliminating Young’s right to a hearing. The Department then moved for summary decision, seeking to dismiss Young’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction. Young objected, arguing the Department improperly divested the Commission and, as such, the Office of Administrative Law of jurisdiction, depriving Young of a hearing on the merits. The Commission dismissed Young’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction. Young appealed, arguing that the Department’s reduction in penalty was prohibited and violated his right to due process. The Appellate Division affirmed and held that Young received adequate notice and an opportunity to be heard to satisfy administrative due process. “The Department permissibly exercised its inherent discretion in reducing Young’s penalty to a five-day suspension, thereby divesting the Commission of jurisdiction under the Act and its accompanying regulations, and eliminating the right to a hearing before the OAL on the resulting minor disciplinary action.”

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