On October 2, 2008, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey decided the case of Figueroa v. City of Camden. In the case, plaintiffs, Camden firefighters who were on the eligible list for promotion to captain, alleged employment discrimination on the basis of race on account of defendants’ refusal to promote using the existing list and the announcement of a new test and new requirements. 

The Court dismissed plaintiffs’ claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against all defendants because plaintiffs failed a file a complaint with the EEOC. Moreover, plaintiffs’ claim under 42 U.S.C. §1983 were dismissed because nothing in the pleadings indicated the unions were acting under color of state law, despite plaintiffs’ contention that the unions conspired with the other defendants to deprive them of their rights. Finally, the §1983 claims against the New Jersey Department of Personnel, its director of selection services, and the Camden chief operating officer were also dismissed because plaintiffs failed to identify any specific acts on their part that violated plaintiffs’ federally protected rights. 

This case illustrates the importance of following the procedural requirements in filing an employment discrimination lawsuit as well as recognizing the elements required to sustain a successful cause of action. Employment discrimination lawsuits against governmental entities contain a myriad of procedural and substantive hurdles. As a result, public safety officers who intend on bringing such a cause of action should seek out competent, experienced legal representation in order to ensure their rights are protected. Without obtaining such representation, it is likely the claims will fail, either procedurally or substantively.      

 

         

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Photo of Frank M. Crivelli Frank M. Crivelli

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state…

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state, county and local law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMS workers.

Mr. Crivelli specializes his individual practice in collective negotiations.  Over the past twenty (20) years, Mr. Crivelli has negotiated well over one hundred (100) collective bargaining agreements for various state, county, municipal and private organizations and has resolved over thirty-five (35) labor agreements that have reached impasse through compulsory interest arbitration.  Mr. Crivelli routinely litigates matters in front of the New Jersey State Public Employment Relations Commission, the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law, third party neutrals for mediation, grievance and interest arbitration, the Superior Court of New Jersey and the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Mr. Crivelli founded and created the New Jersey Public Safety Officers Law Blog (www.njpublicsafetyofficers.com) approximately fifteen (15) years ago where he and members of his firm routinely publish blog posts regarding legal issues related to the employment of New Jersey Public Safety Officers.  The blog now contains over six hundred (600) articles and is reviewed and relied upon by thousands of public employees.  Mr. Crivelli has also published books and manuals pertaining to New Jersey Public Employee Disability Pension Appeals and the New Jersey Worker’s Compensation System. Currently, he is drafting a publication on how to Prepare and Negotiate a Collective Bargaining Agreement.  He lectures annually at the New Jersey State PBA Collective Bargaining Seminar, the National Association of Police Organization’s Legal Seminar, the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission Seminar on Public Employment Labor Law, the United States Marine Corps’ Commander’s Media Training Symposium and to Union Executive Boards and General Membership bodies on various labor related topics.

Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Crivelli joined the United States Marine Corps where he served as a Judge Advocate with the Legal Services Support Section of the First Force Services Support Group in Camp Pendleton, California.  While serving in the Marine Corps, Mr. Crivelli defended and prosecuted hundreds of Special and General Court Martial cases and administrative separation matters.  In addition to his trial duties, Mr. Crivelli was also charged with the responsibility of training various Marine and Naval combat command elements on the interpretation and implementation of the rules of engagement for various military conflicts that were ongoing throughout the world at that time. After leaving active duty, Mr. Crivelli remained in the Marine Corps Reserves where he was promoted to the rank of Major before leaving the service.

For the past fifteen (15) years, Mr. Crivelli has been certified as a Civil Trial Attorney by the Supreme Court for the State of New Jersey, a certification which less than two percent (2%) of the attorneys in New Jersey have achieved.  He is a graduate of Washington College (B.A.), the City University of New York School of Law (J.D.), the United States Naval Justice School, and the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation.