Friday, September 30, 2011

Reclassification of positions


Reclassification of positions
Botti v Lippman, 290 A.D.2d 923

Nicole Botti and other "Court Attorneys" employed by County Judges handling matters in several different county-level courts (referred to as "multi-bench judges") asked to be reclassified to the higher-grade title "Law Clerk to Judge." When the Court's Chief Administrative Judge, Jonathan Lippman, rejected their application for reclassification, they sued. The Appellate Division sustained Judge Lippman's decision. It said that:

Given the broad classification and allocation authority of the Chief Administrator of the Courts, his determinations concerning the classification of positions "will not be disturbed in the absence of a showing that they are wholly arbitrary or without any rational basis."

The court said that Botti and his co-plaintiffs work "in Family ... County and Surrogate's Courts in counties with populations less than 400,000 -- exactly the standard for classifying the title Court Attorney.'"

Botti contended that the fact that they served "multi-bench judges who also handle matters in other county-level courts" justified their reclassification to Law Clerk to Judge. The Appellate Division rejected Botti's argument, finding that in rebuffing their reclassification applications Judge Lippman correctly interpreted the term "full-time" referred to in the “Law Clerk to Judge” job description to mean those judges whose work at the county-level is "exclusively" on matters within the jurisdiction of County Court. This, said the court excluded multibench judges, as they did not serve in such a capacity "full-time."

As there were differences in the nature of the work corresponding to these judicial duties in classifying legal assistants to multibench judges differently from those assisting judges in performing exclusively County Court work, the Appellate Division ruled that "it cannot be said that respondents acted arbitrarily or without any rational basis."

In addition, the court said that classifying Botti's position as Court Attorney "complies with the statutory mandate that nonjudicial employees be classified according to the duties required to be performed and, in addition, reflects the recognized distinctions between the duties of a judge who sits solely in County Court and those of a multi-bench judge."

The Appellate Division also rejected Botti's claim that the Court Attorneys were entitled to additional per diem income whenever they perform work on Supreme Court matters since the Court Attorney job description “expressly contemplates the employees' performance of duties for judges who are designated as "Acting Justices of the Supreme Court for one full term or less." In other words, the court did not consider Court Attorneys performing "Supreme Court" duties to constitute out-of-title work where such work was intermittent and was performed for a term or less.

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/

Challenging Adverse Personnel Decisions 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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