In the matter of Paul Weber v. Borough of Glen Rock, A-1079-07T3, Plaintiff, Paul Weber, appealed from two trial court orders: (1) an order dated May 3, 2006 dismissing some of his claims; and (2) an order dated September 5, 2007 granting summary judgment to defendants on the balance of the claims. After reviewing the contentions raised on appeal, the Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s determinations. 

Weber is a member of the Glen Rock Police Department. After joining the Department as a patrolman in 1978, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 1985. Since 1985, there have been four occasions when there was an opening within the Department for a member to be promoted to the rank of lieutenant. Weber applied for this promotion on each occasion and was unsuccessful. 

In 2004, the successful applicant was Garret Merselis, who was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant. In 2005, a vacancy developed for the position of captain. Thereafter, Merselis, the only lieutenant on the Glen Rock force at that time, was promoted to the rank of captain. The promotion of Merselis to captain created a vacancy for the position of lieutenant. Plaintiff applied, as did three other members of the Department. On this occasion, Frederick Stahman was selected for promotion to the rank of lieutenant.

Plaintiff, who had more seniority than did either Merselis or Stahman at the time of their respective promotions, filed suit contending that the promotional process was flawed. Specifically, he sought to reopen the process relating to the most recent promotional opening. In support, Weber contended: (1) the Borough was required to administer examinations to those applying for promotion and not rely exclusively on interviews; and (2) the Borough, in passing him over for promotion, did not comply with N.J.S.A. 40A:14-129. 

The Court rejected both of Weber’s assertions. The Borough is not a civil service municipality and followed its own two-step promotional process, a written test followed by interviews, until 1992 when, under the new police chief, only interviews were used to select a candidate for promotion to lieutenant. The Court found that where all members of the committee participated in the interviews of all the candidates, the process employed by Glen Rock does not suffer from the same deficiencies criticized in Rox v. Dep’t of Civil Service, 141 N.J. Super. 463, 467 (App. Div. 1976). In Rox, different panels interviewed the various candidates and used different criteria in making promotional decisions. This was not the situation in this case.

Moreover, the Court held that seniority, in and of itself, is not determinative of promotion. The Court indicated seniority is merely an additional factor to be considered on the merits of the evaluation of individuals for promotion and not a mechanical rule which guarantees promotion to a senior employee. In this case, it was established Weber’s seniority was considered. That is all he was entitled to; he was not entitled to have it treated as controlling.          

         

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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.