New Jersey Supreme Court Upholds Appellate Decision Supporting Management Rights in the Public Sector

On April 5, 2024, the New Jersey Supreme Court rescinded its grant of certification in In the Matter of James Harnett (Supreme Court Docket No.: 087997).  The case challenged a Civil Service Commission regulation that affords public employers the discretion to accept or deny an employee’s request to rescind a previously offered resignation.

In this case, a ranking police officer sent an email to his Chief that he was retiring in two weeks and would take vacation during those weeks.  He also cleaned out his office and turned in his badge and gun.  Shortly thereafter, he had a change of heart and wanted to rescind his resignation.  Relying on the Civil Service Commission regulation, Pennsauken Township denied his request.  The employee appealed to the Civil Service Commission claiming that he never used the word “resignation.”  Rather, he indicated that he was “retiring” and that under the State Pension rules, he was entitled to rescind his retirement at any time leading up to his first pension check.

The Civil Service Commission upheld the Township’s action as lawful.  The matter was appealed and the State FOP joined in as amicus curiae.  The Appellate Division, in an unpublished opinion, upheld the Township’s action and the determination of the Civil Service Commission.  The New Jersey Supreme Court accepted certification of the case and oral argument was held.  The Supreme Court determined that certification was not appropriate and, in an unusual move, vacated its certification decision and effectively upheld the decision of the Appellate Division in favor of the Township.

Michael J. DiPiero, Esq., a partner of the firm, argued the matter at the Appellate Division and the Supreme Court.  Andrew S. Brown, Esq., an associate of the firm, also assisted on the matter.  This decision supports management rights in public sector employment decisions.  The unpublished opinion of the Appellate Division and the Order of the Supreme Court in this matter can be found here: