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Friday, September 02, 2011

Jurisdictional classification of positions


Jurisdictional classification of positions
CSEA Local 1000 v State University of New York, 280 A.D.2d 832

Unless placed in a different jurisdictional classification by statute or by action of the civil service commission(s) having jurisdiction, all positions in the classified service are automatically included in the competitive class.* 

Accordingly, most “jurisdictional classification” questions concern the placement or the jurisdictional reclassification of a position in the competitive class of the classified service into the exempt, noncompetitive or labor class.

However, sometimes another “jurisdictional issue” is raised: is a particular position in the classified service or the unclassified service. The CSEA Local 1000 case raised such an issue and sets out the standards the court will apply in resolving such questions.

In 1998 the State University of New York [SUNY] announced a vacancy for a “warehouse staff assistant” position in the unclassified service at SUNY-Plattsburgh. CSEA Local 1000 objected to the jurisdictional classification of this position in the unclassified service, contending that the position was actually that of a “principal stores clerk”, a classified service position in the competitive class in a bargaining unit represented by Local 1000.

Section 35 of the Civil Service Law sets out the positions that are in the unclassified service. These include all elective offices; officers and employees of the state legislature and any other legislative bodies whose principal functions are directly related to the performance of the legislative functions of such body; and the head or heads of any department of the government.

Also included are “all positions in the state university in the professional service as defined in subdivision three of section three hundred fifty-five-a of the education law, which positions shall be determined by the chancellor of the state university and certified by him to the civil service commission....” Essentially Local 1000 charged that SUNY had abused its discretion when it designated the warehouse staff assistant as an unclassified professional position.

Affirming the Chancellor's determination, the Appellate Division said that “[w]hile we must look to the duties, not the title, to determine the proper classification of a position, a comparison of the duties and job requirements for the position of “principal stores clerk” with those of the “staff assistant” reveals that the positions are not “so substantially similar as to be appropriately termed identical.”

The Appellate Division noted that the positions have “vastly different educational requirements” and many different duties and, while some of the duties of each position appear similar, clearly the “staff assistant” position entails more managerial tasks and greater responsibilities.

The Appellate Division's conclusion: CSEA's allegation that the designation of the position as a “staff assistant” was arbitrary and capricious is not supported by evidence and, consequently, cannot be said to lack a rational basis.

* Jurisdictional classification and jurisdictional reclassification involve determinations placing positions in the classified service in the competitive, exempt, noncompetitive or labor classes [Section 2.10, Civil Service Law]. In contrast, position classification involves the evaluation of the duties and responsibilities of a position and placing it in a group of positions with a common and descriptive title [Section 2.11, Civil Service Law]. Positions in the unclassified service consist essentially of elected officials, department heads and educators, and are listed in Section 35 of the Civil Service Law.

Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

A Reasonable Penalty Under The Circumstances at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

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