On September 11, 2008, the New Jersey Law Enforcement Supervisors Association (“NJLESA”) and New Jersey Law Enforcement Commanding Officers Association (“NJLECOA”), jointly filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Mercer County against the State of New Jersey challenging the viability of N.J.S.A. 11A:6-10 and N.J.A.C. 4A:6-1.13, the provisions of New Jersey law providing convention leave for State employees.
It is alleged that on or around July 15, 2008, NJLESA, the exclusive representative of those employees in the primary level supervisory law enforcement unit, and NJLECOA, the exclusive representative of superior officers and other command law enforcement personnel holding the rank of Captain or its equivalency in classified career service, requested a leave of absence with pay for certain union officials and duly authorized delegates within their organizations to attend a state convention jointly hosted by NJLESA and NJLECOA. In response, the New Jersey State Office of Employee Relations denied the request and took the position that it was not permitted to grant plaintiffs’ request because neither NJLESA nor NJLECOA were affiliated with any of the organizations delineated in N.J.S.A. 11A:6-10 and N.J.A.C. 4A:6-1.13 which are entitled to convention leave.
The complaint asserts N.J.S.A. 11A:6-10 and N.J.A.C. 4A:6-1.13 are arbitrarily exclusive in conferring the benefit of convention leave on certain fraternal organizations while excluding others, thereby violating certain provisions of the United States and New Jersey Constitutions. Consequently, NJLESA and NJLECOA seek a declaration that N.J.S.A. 11A:6-10 and N.J.A.C. 4A:6-1.13 are unconstitutional or, alternatively, for an order directing the State of New Jersey to award convention leave to members of their organization. It will be interesting to see how this suit develops and how the state of New Jersey reacts to preserving this piece of legislation.