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Friday, October 29, 2010

Grieving alleged out-of-title work assignments

Grieving alleged out-of-title work assignments
Bailey v GOER, 259 AD2d 940

Sometimes a Taylor Law contract will include a provision barring unit members from being assigned to perform “out-of-title” work. Such a provision was included in a collective bargaining agreement between the State of New York and a negotiating unit represented by the Civil Service Employees Association, Local 1000 [CSEA]. As demonstrated by the Bailey decision, courts appear to be quite liberal in analyzing job descriptions when considering allegations of out-of-title work.

Complaints were received by the State Department of Transportation concerning Robert W. Bailey, a Supervising Motor Vehicle Inspector [SMVI]. Bailey was relieved of his normal SMVI duties and was given a “special assignment” while the department conducted its investigation of the complaints. Bailey performed this “special assignment” for 54-day commencing March 20, 1997.

Contending that Bailey’s “special assignment” constituted out-of-title work in violation of the collective bargaining agreement, as well as Civil Service Law Section 61(2), CSEA filed a contract grievance on his behalf. The grievance was denied at the agency level and, upon appeal, by the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations [GOER].

Section 61(2) of the Civil Service Law provides that “no person shall be appointed, promoted or employed under any title not appropriate to the duties to be performed.” CSEA contended that Bailey’s “special assignment” duties were not appropriate to his title - Supervising Motor Vehicle Inspector.

Grievances filed under the out-of-title work provision were not subject to arbitration. Accordingly, when CSEA decided to appeal GOER’s decision, it filed an Article 78 petition [Article 78, Civil Practice Law and Rules] seeking judicial review.

CSEA’s major argument was that the tasks Bailey was assigned while on special assignment were among those performed by employees in a higher position -- Intermodal Transportation Specialist 2 [ITS2]. As additional evidence of out-of-title work, CSEA alleged that the duties of incumbents of ITS2 positions involved supervision. Accordingly, CSEA claimed that Bailey was assigned out-of-title work. NYPPL

The Appellate Division agreed that the ITS2 position was a supervisory position, requiring the management of a unit. It pointed out, however, that Bailey’s special assignment did not involve any supervisory responsibility.

Considering the circumstances involved in Bailey’s situation, the court concluded that the mere fact that there may have been some overlap between the duties of Bailey’s special assignment and those of the higher ITS2 position did not demonstrate any irrationality in GOER’s holding that Bailey was not performing out-of-title work during the period in question.

Another argument made by CSEA in support of its position was that the duties Bailey was assigned while on special assignment involved “streamlining bus inspection forms and revising program guidelines, forms and manuals for the Motor Carrier Safety Bureau.” Such duties, CSEA claimed, did not fall within any of the tasks he had performed as an SMVI.

The Appellate Division commented that the classification standards for the SMVI position included participating in special studies relating to bus safety, preparing of reports and records concerning transportation district program and providing of technical assistance and advice. It apparently decided that Bailey’s special assignment tasks could be encompassed under such “special studies.” The court said the record as a whole provides a rational basis for GOER’s determination that Bailey was not performing out-of-title work and dismissed CSEA’s appeal.
NYPPL

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