On February 9, 2009, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey decided the case of Martin v. City of East Orange. In the case, plaintiffs, two police officers, alleged that in failing to promote them in 2003, when officers ranked below them were recommended for promotion, although not promoted, the defendants discriminated against them in favor of officers more politically favored in violation of 42 U.S.C. §1983, the federal and state constitutions, and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.
The Court dismissed all of plaintiffs’ federal claims. The Court held the officers had no constitutional right to promotion and they failed to produce any evidence of political favoritism or retaliation for having complained about being improperly bypassed for promotion. Further, the Court declined to assert subject-matter jurisdiction over the state law claim, thereby not addressing those issues.
This case illustrates the importance of producing credible, substantive evidence in support of a claim alleging that one was improperly bypassed for promotion. It is vital that any public safety officer who seeks to assert such a claim should consult with a qualified attorney who is able to produce such competent evidence or determine whether such evidence exists so as to avoid the pitfalls present in this matter. Without the necessary proofs, such a claim will likely fail, as articulated by the Court in this case.