A city employee who alleged she was laid off in “bad faith” lost an appeal with the New Jersey Civil Service Commission.
Management specialist Joyce Gregory-Hunt argued the city failed to timely meet with her union representatives prior to laying her off on January 5th, 2016. She cited this as bad faith conduct on the part of the city to urge the state to overturn her layoff.
Administrative law judge Ellen Bass disagreed. Her opinion states the city had planned to meet with the union representatives on November 7th, 2015, but the meeting did not occur until January of 2016. “While the city did not formally consult with the negotiations representatives pre-layoff, its meeting in January cured this procedural error,” reads the opinion.
Hunt also alleged the city dismissed her because it was dissatisfied with her work performance. She provided a letter of reprimand to the state from April 2015 in which Community Development Department director Barbara Blake-McLennon reprimanded her due to an error she had made on a financial report that led to an audit finding.
The director’s letter of reprimand stated Hunt “lacked the ability and talents” to properly process the information in question resulting in an erroneous report. Hunt filed a grievance, but she was laid off before it was heard.
Hunt also argued there was money available to save her position from the New Jersey State Police Office of Emergency Management. However, she was only spending a fraction of her time on emergency management matters, according to public documents.
The city proposed laying off three employees at the Community Development Department in 2015 as part of a series of spending reduction measures to close a $3.8 million deficit in the municipal budget, according to public documents.
Hunt was hired in January of 2011 by former mayor Jeffery Jones’ administration. Her salary was $67,626 in July of 2015, according to city payroll data.
Under the previous administration, she oversaw three divisions at the Community Development Department including personnel, grant drawdowns, and the Northside Buyback program. Under the current administration, she her position was focused on vouchers and the buyback program. She reported to the budget officer, according to state records.
The state on Jan. 18, 2017 adopted administrative law judge’s opinion.