August 06, 2021

Judicial authority to review classification and compensation decisions of the State's Director of Classification and Compensation with respect to positions subject to the jurisdiction of the State's Department of Civil Service

As a result of the merger of the State's Banking and Insurance Departments into single agency, the Department of Financial Services, new agency commenced a title modernization initiative intended to, among other things, restructure and consolidate certain obsolete job titles, including, as relevant here, replacing the titles of Bank Examiner 1 (Salary grade 20) and Insurance Examiner 1 (Salary grade 18) with a newly created entry-level title, Financial Services Examiner 1 (Salary grade 18).

In a proceeding pursuant to CPLR Article 78 to review the determination of the New York State Civil Service Commission reclassifying and reallocating job titles at issue, Supreme Court dismissed the President of the New York State Public Employees Federation's  [Petitioner] application for judicial review.*

Petitioner, had challenged the decision of the New York State Department of Civil Service's Division of Classification and Compensation [DCC], objecting to the title restructuring, alleging, among other things, that the salary grade for the Bank Examiner 1 title was improperly reallocated from a salary grade 20 to a salary grade 18. Subsequently the New York Civil Service Commission confirmed DCC's determination.

The Appellate Division, noting that the "sole issue preserved for [its] review is whether the determination allocating a salary grade 18 to the newly created Financial Services Examiner 1 title had a rational basis," explained that §118 of the Civil Service Law vests DCC's Director with the authority "to classify and reclassify all positions in the classified civil service of the [s]tate and to make such revisions in the classification and compensation of positions as changes in the [s]tate service may require."**

The court then opined that "review of administrative determinations with respect to classification is limited and, unless the determinations are shown to be wholly arbitrary and capricious or without a rational basis, they will not be disturbed ... even if there are legitimate grounds for a difference of opinion."

Finding no basis to disturb Supreme Court's judgment, the Appellate Division dismissed Petitioner's appeal.

* In 2011, the State of New York merged the Banking Department and the Insurance Department into the Respondent herein, the Department of Financial Services [See Chapter 62, §1 Part A of the Laws of 2011].

** The Appellate Division cited Citing Cohen v New York State Civ. Serv. Commn., 90 AD2d 884, in support of its determination.

Click Here to access the full text of the Appellate Division's decision.

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