Under New Jersey’s civil service laws, all state, plus many county and local government workers have the same rights and protections as any private sector employee would have. Civil Service was put into place to keep politics, nepotism and favoritism out of employment decisions, ensuring citizens would have the best possible government workforce. This means as a government employee, it is important to understand your rights.
Civil Service Protections
Along with the standard protections of any private sector employee, the Civil Service Act includes various other forms of employee rights and protections. These protections include:
- Special Protections: Permanent employees can receive a form of tenure, which ensures they cannot be fired except for just cause. Other protections include hiring, discipline and layoff concerns. Civil service employees have the right to appeal through the New Jersey Civil Service Commision.
- Discrimination: Just as private sector employment, the government cannot discriminate based off of who the person is, their race, gender and more.
- Whistleblower: New Jersey’s Whistleblower laws protect employees who refuse to participate in policies or conduct by their employer that violate a rule or law that concerns public health and safety, or fraudulent behavior.
- Constitutional or civil rights claims:
- Due Process
- Free Speech
- Equal Protection
- Wage and Hour Claims: Civil service workers have specific wage and hourly protections.
If your government employer wants to take disciplinary action, they must follow a certain procedure in order to do so. This is how it looks:
- Written Notice and Hearing: The employer must provide a written notice to the employee with details and specifications of the charges, and then an opportunity for a hearing within 30 days of the notice.
- Immediate Suspension: Directly after the hearing, an employer has the ability to immediately suspend the employee if it is determined because of health, safetly or effective provision of public services.
Final discipline hearings must be held within 30 days of the written notice, unless waived by the employee. However, if the 30 day limit is not met, charges do not have to be dismissed. A written notice will come in the form of a Preliminary Notice of Disciplinary Action (PNDA). If the employee does not request a hearing within five days of receiving a PNDA, the hearing can be waived, allowing the employer to impose disciplinary action without one. The employee is able to be represented by an attorney or union representative.
Get Legal Representation
If, as a civil service employee, you are facing disciplinary action, it is important to have proper representation. Here at Catanzaro Law, we understand the importance of understanding your rights and protections, and how you need to act quickly. If you have received a PNDA, feel your rights have been violated, or have faced other repercussions, you must act as quickly as possible. Our legal representatives are experienced, knowledgeable professionals who can help you understand everything you need to know and provide the right course of action. Contact us today for a free consultation and make sure you have proper representation before it’s too late!