Matter of Civil Service Employees Association, Inc., Local 1000, AFSCME, AFL-CIO v State of New York Unified Court System, 55 AD3d 1070
Following the reallocation of positions previously titled "Hearing Examiner" to “Support Magistrates, JG-31” and the adoption of a new title standard, individual Support Magistrates and the labor union representing them [petitioners], commenced a proceeding seeking to rescind the allocation of the title to JG-31, and place the Support Magistrate title in a higher salary grade -- JG-33. The title change and level of compensation had been determined by the Chief Administrative Judge.
Supreme Court concluded that the classification of the position and its allocation to JG-31 had a rational basis, was not arbitrary and capricious and dismissed the petition. The Appellate Division affirmed Supreme Court’s determination.
In the course of the proceeding the Administrative Director of the Unified Court System submitted an affidavit in support of the classification of the position and the allocation of the title Support Magistrates to JG-31 in which he stated that the allocation of the Support Magistrate title to salary grade JG-31 was based upon the Chief Administrative Judge's finding that duties, responsibilities and functions of Support Magistrates are comparable to those of Court Attorney-Referees. Court Attorney-Referees act as special referees in a number of courts, including Family Court, and are also allocated to grade JG-31.
In addition, the Administrative Director said that “Court Attorney-Referees, when authorized by a Family Court judge and upon consent of the parties, perform the same quasi-judicial functions that Support Magistrates do and in the same court both conduct trials, take evidence and issue orders, including orders of protection.”
Conceding that the reasons underlying the determination, are "facially legal," the petitioners argued that the two titles are not comparable because a Support Magistrate is directly empowered by statute to decide certain issues while a Court Attorney-Referee has no original jurisdiction conferred by statute and the Court Attorney-Referee must be appointed by a court to hear and report or, with the consent of the parties, hear and determine, the issues.
The Appellate Division was not persuaded by the petitioners’ argument, ruling that “the difference in the origin of authority to entertain issues does not contradict [the Chief Administrative Judge’s] conclusion that the duties, responsibilities and functions of the two titles are similar.” In other words, it is the duties and responsibilities of the position that are controlling in classifying the position and allocating it to a salary grade, not the source of the authority that the incumbent of the title exercises.
The decision is posted on the Internet at: