A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Labor & Employment

A Reminder from the Appellate Division on RIFs and Tenured Employees

By on August 22, 2017 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

On August 17, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued an unpublished opinion in which it upheld the Atlantic City Board of Education’s (“Board”) decision to change the employment of two supervisors from twelve-month positions to ten-month positions due to a reduction in force (“RIF”). This case highlights an important interplay between RIFs and tenure rights of public school employees. The Board employed Lourdes Vidal-Turner and C. Dedra Williams (“Petitioners”) as teachers for numerous years. The Board then promoted each of them to a twelve-month supervisory position in which they later acquired tenured. The State Appointed Fiscal Monitor for the […]

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Atlantic County and Bridgewater Township Required to Continue Step Increases After Expiration of Contracts

By on August 4, 2017 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

By: Robert A. Muccilli, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. The New Jersey Supreme Court on August 3, 2017 decided In re County of Atlantic in which it held that the salary increment systems in collective bargaining agreements between two public entities, Atlantic County and the Township of Bridgewater, and their respective FOP and PBA unions remained in effect after the agreements’ expiration dates. The County and Township were required to pay salary step increases during the period between the expiration of those contracts and the formation of their successor agreements. Accordingly, the Court upheld the Appellate Division’s ruling in […]

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BOE Unable to Withhold Pay of Teacher Who Collected Unemployment Benefits During Suspension

On May 18, 2017, the Commissioner of Education in Strassle v. Old Bridge Township Board of Education affirmed the decision of the Administrative Law Judge that tenured teacher Thomas Strassle was entitled to pay during his suspension even though he had collected unemployment benefits during the suspension. Strassle was a tenured teacher employed by the Old Bridge Township Board of Education (“Board”). In September 2015, the Board placed him on a paid suspension pending an investigation of his conduct pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:6-8.3. Thereafter, in April 2016, the Board certified tenure charges against Strassle and converted his suspension to an […]

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Commissioner of Education Dismisses Cases Against Superintendent for Lack of Jurisdiction

By on April 18, 2017 in Labor & Employment with 1 Comment

On March 30, 2017, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”) in Chiodi v. Eitner affirmed an Administrative Law Judge’s (“ALJ”) decision dismissing cases brought by three teachers against Superintendent Jason Eitner of the Waterford Township Board of Education (“Board”) due to a failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The teachers sought to revoke the Superintendent’s certificate for conduct unbecoming based on allegations of sexual harassment, age discrimination, and bullying. In short, the cases were dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The teachers alleged that the Superintendent discriminated against them, invaded their privacy, and violated school […]

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Appellate Division Affirms Tuition Reimbursement Issue Not Subject to Arbitration

By on April 11, 2017 in Labor & Employment with 1 Comment

On March 2, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued an unpublished decision in Hillsborough Township Board of Education v. Hillsborough Township Education Association in which it affirmed the Public Employment Relations Commission’s (“PERC”) determination that an issue involving tuition reimbursement was preempted by statute and therefore not arbitrable. This case arose from employees whose requests for tuition reimbursement were denied because the courses were not related to the employees’ current or future job responsibilities pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:6-8.5. In 2013, four individuals employed by the Hillsborough Township Board of Education (“Board”) sought tuition reimbursement from the Board for various […]

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Appellate Division Clarifies Who May Issue Rice Notice to Superintendent

By on April 4, 2017 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

In 2013, the Appellate Division ruled that Daniel Woska, a former member of the Brick Township Board of Education (“Board”), exceeded the scope of his authority and violated the New Jersey School Ethics Act (“Act”) when he directed the Business Administrator to issue a Rice notice to the Superintendent. As a result of that Rice notice, the Board discussed the Superintendent’s employment and then terminated him. In the 2013 decision, the Appellate Division remanded the case to the School Ethics Commission (“SEC”) to determine who is authorized to issue a Rice notice for the purposes of reviewing the Superintendent’s employment. […]

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N.J. Supreme Court Rules Arbitrator Exceeded Authority in Tenure Case

By on March 6, 2017 in Labor & Employment with 1 Comment

On February 21, 2017, the New Jersey Supreme Court in Bound Brook Board of Education v. Glenn Ciripompa invalided an arbitrator’s award in a tenure removal case after determining that the arbitrator exceeded his authority when he failed to determine whether a teacher’s actions rose to the level of conduct unbecoming. The arbitrator improperly applied the standard for hostile work environment instead of conduct unbecoming. Bound Brook Board of Education (“Board”) filed tenure charges against Glenn Ciripompa, a tenured high school math teacher, after an investigation revealed that he was using school district-issued laptops, iPads, and networks to transmit nude […]

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Board of Education Required to Pay Back $3.8M to Teachers’ Pension Fund

By on December 27, 2016 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

On December 22, 2016, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Middletown Township Board of Education v. Division of Pensions and Benefits affirmed the Board of Trustees of the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund’s determination that the Middletown Township Board of Education offered an unauthorized early retirement incentive to its employees. The decision requires the Board to pay back approximately $3.8 million to the teachers’ pension fund. In October 2007, the Middletown Township Board of Education (“Board”) approved a Sidebar Agreement with the Middletown Township Education Association (“Association”) modifying the collective bargaining agreement between the Board and the Association. The Sidebar […]

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Unilaterally Reducing Teachers’ Hours During Economic Crisis Prohibited

By on December 13, 2016 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

On November 29, 2016, the New Jersey Supreme Court In the Matter of Robbinsville Township Board of Education v. Washington Township Education Association ruled that boards of education must negotiate employees’ work hours and cannot unilaterally reduce those hours even in times of economic crisis. The collective negotiation agreement between the Robbinsville Township Board of Education (“Board”) and the Washington Township Education Association (“Association”) stated that teachers’ salaries would be based on 188 days for new teachers and 185 days for all other teachers. In 2010, a series of events caused a significant reduction in the Board’s funding. As a […]

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Non-Renewal Provision in Superintendent’s Contract Voided

By on December 13, 2016 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

On December 1, 2016, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”) upheld an Administrative Law Judge’s determination to invalidate a non-renewal provision contained in a Superintendent’s contract. In Richardson v. Gangadin and Jersey City Education Association v. Jersey City Board of Education, the Commissioner found that a board of education and a Superintendent may not alter the statutory requirements governing the renewal of a Superintendent’s contract. N.J.S.A. 18A:17-20.1 provides, in part, that a Superintendent will be automatically reappointed or renewed unless the board of education affirmatively provides timely notice.  Such notice must be 30 days for each year in the […]

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