A city health department employee, who was overlooked for appointment to a new position in 2011, received a favorable decision from the state’s civil service commission last week, when the commission ordered the city to retroactively appoint him as health officer.
An administrative judge ordered that Thakur “Paul” Persaud, who currently serves as a program manager, be permanently appointed as health officer effective July 7th, 2011. Although the appointment is retroactive, going back three years, Persaud will not be entitled to back pay, according to the order.
The action follows an almost four-year long battle that ensued after health director Donna Nelson-Ivy appointed Trevor Weigle as the city’s health officer. Weigle ranked second on an eligibles list from May 2011. Persaud, who ranked first, was overlooked, and the city hired Weigle.
Persaud appealed stating he was the only city resident on the list. A city ordinance requires employees to be city residents with few exceptions. The city responding to Persaud’s appeal citied one of the exceptions stating Weigle possessed special skills not found among city residents. The exception states, the city may hire outsiders, if a certain special skill cannot be found amongst city residents.
The special talent the city was unpersuasively arguing with was Weigle’s provisional appointment as health officer in the city and his stint in Bloomfield. Persaud was found to be “a medical doctor, [who] possess a Master’s degree in Public Health, a Ph.D in Public Health Epidemiology, and a license as health officer,” reads the order.
Once it was found that what the city argued was “special talent” was not actually so, for both possessed a health officer license, the judges determined based on the city’s ordinance Persaud should have been appointed in 2011.
“In order to be employed by Paterson, absent qualifying for an exception, a condition of employment is residency in the city. In this case, a resident of the city, the appellant [Persaud], possessed the necessary qualifications to be a health officer, i.e. licensure as health officer,” reads the order.
Nelson-Ivy on Wednesday said Persaud has yet to be appointed as required by the order. Nelson-Ivy said she will have to discuss the matter with the administration to figure out how to implement the order.
Although the order states Persaud is not entitled to payback with the retroactive appoint, there are conditions: Where an “appointing authority took adverse action against the employee in bad faith or with invidious motivation” an employee maybe be due back pay.
A related lawsuit filed by Persaud alleges Nelson-Ivy has been “hostile, disrespectful and intimidating” towards Persaud. And she falsely accused him of “incompetency,” “failure to perform duties,” “insubordination and conduct unbecoming a public employee,” according to court records.