On May 7, 2009, the Appellate Division decided In the Matter of Steven Howe and Joseph Mufalli, Docket No. A-3512-07T1. In the case, Steven Howe appealed from the final administrative determination of the Merit System Board (“Board”), issued December 21, 2007, and its determination of March 13, 2008, denying his motion for reconsideration of the determination that Howe did not meet the experience requirements necessary to sit for the promotional examination for Chief Operating Engineer 2 of the Juvenile Justice Commission.

On appeal, Howe argued that “the administrative agency acted either arbitrarily or capriciously by finding appellant’s prior supervisory experience to be out of title,” whereas only one of the three applicants, Barry Schneider, who did the same work as appellant, was found to qualify for the exam. Howe further argued that the agency acted “arbitrarily and capriciously in its attempt to correct the ambiguous language in the job specification of operating engineer 1 and should have either negated the examination results or should have allowed all three applicants to sit for the exam.” 

After reviewing the entire record, the Appellate Division concluded that it could not disturb the findings of the Board because the Court must defer to the agency’s expertise in implementing civil service law. Although the Court noted the job description for operating engineer 1 is ambiguous regarding supervisory responsibilities and the Board directed that it be amended, the Court determined Howe did not provide evidence that he had supervised while in that position and, therefore, was not qualified to sit for the exam. As such, the Court found the Board did not act arbitrarily, capriciously, or unreasonably in not permitting him to take the examination.

 

Print:
Email this postTweet this postLike this postShare this post on LinkedIn
Photo of Donald C. Barbati Donald C. Barbati

Donald C. Barbati is a shareholder of Crivelli, Barbati & DeRose, L.L.C. His primary practice revolves around the representation of numerous public employee labor unions in various capacities to include contract negotiation, unfair labor practice litigation, contract grievance arbitration, and other diverse issues…

Donald C. Barbati is a shareholder of Crivelli, Barbati & DeRose, L.L.C. His primary practice revolves around the representation of numerous public employee labor unions in various capacities to include contract negotiation, unfair labor practice litigation, contract grievance arbitration, and other diverse issues litigated before the courts and administrative tribunals throughout the State of New Jersey. In addition, Mr. Barbati also routinely represents individuals in various types of public pension appeals, real estate transactions, and general litigation matters. He is a frequent contributor to the New Jersey Public Safety Officers Law Blog, a free legal publication designed to keep New Jersey public safety officers up-to-date and informed about legal issues pertinent to their profession. During his years of practice, Mr. Barbati has established a reputation for achieving favorable results for his clients in a cost-efficient manner.

Mr. Barbati has also handled numerous novel legal issues while representing New Jersey Public Safety Officers. Most notably, he served as lead counsel for the Appellants in the published case In re Rodriguez, 423 N.J. Super. 440 (App. Div. 2011). In that case, Mr. Barbati successfully argued on behalf of the Appellants, thereby overturning the Attorney General’s denial of counsel to two prison guards in a civil rights suit arising from an inmate assault. In the process, the Court clarified the standard to be utilized by the Attorney General in assessing whether a public employee is entitled to legal representation and mandated that reliance must be placed on up-to-date information.

Prior to becoming a practicing attorney, Mr. Barbati served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Linda R. Feinberg, Assignment Judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Mercer Vicinage. During his clerkship Mr. Barbati handled numerous complex and novel substantive and procedural issues arising from complaints in lieu of prerogative writs, orders to show cause, and motion practice. These include appeals from decisions by planning and zoning boards and local government bodies, bidding challenges under the Local Public Contract Law, Open Public Records Act requests, the taking of private property under the eminent domain statute, and election law disputes. In addition, Mr. Barbati, as a certified mediator, mediated many small claims disputes in the Special Civil Part.

Mr. Barbati received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, magna cum laude, from Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Upon graduating, Mr. Barbati attended Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Delaware. In 2007, he received his juris doctorate, magna cum laude, graduating in the top five percent of his class. During law school, Mr. Barbati interned for the Honorable Joseph E. Irenas, Senior United States District Court Judge for the District of New Jersey in Camden, New Jersey, assisting on various constitutional, employment, and Third Circuit Court of Appeals litigation, including numerous civil rights, social security, and immigration cases.