In the Matter of Nicholas R. Foglio, NJ Supreme Court Rules Towns Must Provide "Legitimate" Reason for Hiring Less-Qualified Candidates

November 1, 2011

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently ruled that municipalities that hire from a civil service list have to provide a "legitimate" reason for hiring someone who placed lower in the test ranking, The Star-Ledger reports.

New Jersey Employment Lawyers have seen countless examples of people who were passed over for good jobs simply because of an unqualified person's connections or other unlawful reasons. These situations should be fought aggressively and sometimes litigation is necessary in order to get justice.
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In a recent 4-2 decision In the Matter of Nicholas R. Foglio, the New Jersey Supreme Court reversed a practice that some experts say gave too much power to hiring authorities who gave vague reasons for bypassing qualified candidates in favor of family members and those with political connections.

The court ruling is based on the case of Foglio, who was skipped over for a firefighter's position in Ocean City in 2007. In hiring firefighters that year, the city picked a bartender and a lifeguard over Foglio, who had eight years of experience as a volunteer fireman and emergency medical technician in several communities.

The city initially cited better educational background as the reason, though Foglio had more firefighter educational training. According to the newspaper, it later said the other two had performed better in interviews, though the city couldn't provide notes or a list of standard questions they asked all candidates. Finally, the city said the other candidates "best met the needs" of the fire department and the Civil Service Commission agreed, as did an appeals court.

But the state's high court said a "boilerplate" reason is insufficient, and the city was obligated to provide the New Jersey Department of Personnel with a statement of "legitimate" reasons why Foglio wasn't selected. The city must now decide whether to give Foglio a "legitimate" reason for why he wasn't hired or must give him a job, his attorney said.

The New Jersey Supreme Court decision is good news for those applying for jobs within a city or town throughout the state. Many times, those hiring civil service employees simply hire less-qualified people as a favor and it undermines the legitimacy of the hiring process. It also is a form of discrimination that shouldn't be tolerated.

Whether based on age, race, gender, sexual orientation, creed or other reasons outlined in New Jersey law, employers aren't allowed to discriminate. And that includes the hiring and firing processes. Potential employees are afforded protections just like people who are already on the payroll.

Hiring a New Jersey Employment Lawyer where a potential employee has been passed over for a job or turned down for a promotion or harassed on the job is critical. These injustices should not go unnoticed and unpunished. Sometimes, litigation can be avoided, but there are times when filing a lawsuit is necessary. Our firm has decades of experience handling these cases and continuously fights for employees' rights.

If you feel your employer has discriminated against you in New York or New Jersey, contact the Resnick Law Group, P.C. at 973-781-1204 or 646-867-7997. We are located in East Hanover, N.J. and Midtown Manhattan on Broadway.

Additional Resources:

Towns must provide explanations when hiring less qualified workers, state Supreme Court rules, by MaryAnn Spoto, The Star-Ledger