New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police

On November 17, 2008, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided the case of Borough v. Glassboro v. Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 108,  A-75-07. In this case, the Court addressed the validity of an arbitrator’s award addressing the legality of a police officer promotion made by the Borough of Glassboro, a non-civil service municipality.

In 2004, the Borough of Glassboro Police Department (“Borough”) announced an opening for the position of lieutenant. Three candidates applied, including Sergeants Peter Amico and William Highley. As a non-civil service municipality, the Borough is not subject to the statutory requirements of a comprehensive promotional procedure. Rather, state law only requires that due consideration is given to the officer proposed for promotion and to the length and merit of the officer’s service, with preference being given to seniority in service.

The Borough implemented a three stage promotional procedure. The scores from Phase I and II were aggregated for a total possible score of 100%. Phase I consisted of an interview with the Borough Chief of Police and was worth 20%. Phase II involved an oral and written exam and was worth 80%. Phase IIA, the written portion, was a multiple-choice test designed by the International Association of Police Chiefs. Phase IIB, the oral component, consisted of interviews with a panel of four independent police chiefs. Following Phase I and II, the cumulative final scores were as follows: Sergeant Amico, 93.8, and Sergeant Highley, 92.4.

In Phase III, each applicant was interviewed by the Borough Public Safety Committee, which included Borough Council members, the Borough Administrator, and the Chief of Police. Candidates were advised that they would be asked questions “concerning their department’s SOPs Rules and Regulations, in addition to questions concerning the Boro Personnel Policy & Procedures and Boro Ordinances.” The purpose of Phase III was to test leadership intangibles that are necessary for the position and evade formal testing. After the completion of Phase III, Highley, ranked second in the Phase I and II testing, was awarded the promotion.

Amico learned in subsequent conversations with the Chief of Police and the Borough Administrator that his move out of the Borough had a possible negative effect on the promotional decision. The Fraternal Order of Police, Local 108 (“FOP”) filed a grievance on Amico’s behalf, thereby claiming: (1) that the use of Phase III as more than a “confirmatory interview” altered the terms and conditions of employment in violation of the collective bargaining agreement between the Borough and FOP; and (2) the Borough violated N.J.S.A. 40A:14-122.6 by making residency a factor in its promotional decision.

Continue Reading Non-Civil Service Municipality’s Promotion Decision Overturned

In the case of Grasso v. Fraternal Order of Police, Glassboro Lodge No. 108, 33-2-1617, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, held that under the New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act, N.J.S.A. 34:13A-1 et.seq, the Defendants owed no duty to the Plaintiff to represent him in a dispute with the Borough of Glassboro