Police & Fire

Vernon Township Faces Civil Service Lawsuit

(From left to right) Councilman Dick Wetzel presents a rose to the ladies of the press, councilman Brian Lynch, council president Patrick Rizutto, township attorney Kevin Kelly, councilman Dan Kadish and councilman Eddie Dunn. Credits: Alley Shubert
Resident Lynn Van Gorder speaks to the Vernon council at the recent lawsuit the town is facing. Credits: Alley Shubert

VERNON TOWNSHIP, NJ - Resident Lynn Van Gorder of Highland Lakes presented the Vernon Council with documentation on a recent lawsuit based on violation of Civil Service Laws, at the recent council meeting.

The ten page document issued by the New Jersey Decision of the Civil Service Commission on Jan. 24, stated that the Township of Vernon had a 45 day notice to pay back the two employees who were laid off.
The township failed to acknowledge these circumstances, and based on page eight of the documentation, the township can be issued up to $10,000 in fines.
“This [documentation] lists example after example,” said Van Gorder. “Why can’t this administration follow civil laws?”

This topic is so near and dear to Van Gorder’s heart due to the fact that her husband, Thomas Van Gorder, a fire official and, William Hendrickson, a fire prevention specialist, are the two gentleman who were laid off from their positions.
According to a paragraph in the first page of the Administrative Appeals, “Hendrickson and Van Gorder had been serving permanently with Vernon Township on a part-time basis since August 31, 2009 and October 20, 2005, respectively. The appellants then separated from employment effective October 14, 2011. Their County and Municipal Personnel System (CAMPS) records reflect resignations in good standing on that date. The appellants appealed their separations, indicating that they were laid off from their positions. Upon receipt of the appeals, the Division of Classification and Personnel Management (CPM) was contacted regarding the CAMPS information. CPM advised that, according to the appointing authority, the appellants’ resignations were entered “in error.” What apparently occurred was that the appellants were offered interviews for a new position, which they did not receive and resulted in their separation from employment. It is noted that this agency did not receive a layoff plan or copies of notices of layoff from the appointing authority.”
“I listen to all the improvements being made and this is an embarrassment,” Van Gorder said. "The report states ‘troubled’ and ‘disturbed’ their words, not mine. I have one word for it; disgrace. If you’re not a part of the solution than you are a part of the problem.”
Page eight states, “In this case, the Commission is disturbed by the appointing authority’s admission that it laid off the appellants from their positions, yet failed to comply with any of the procedural requirements for layoff to submit accurate records to reflect its actions. The appointing authority also did not explain how an error in the appellants’ CAMPS records could have occurred, when it is clear that the appointing authority intended to subject the appellants to a layoff based on its responses to their appeals.”
In a previous article, Van Gorder had told The Alternative Press how, “The Vernon Township mayor and administrator disregarded or circumvented Civil Service Laws/Rules to ‘lay-off’ two long-term employees in order to hire a non-resident, non-civil service employee.”
Van Gorder also ended her statement with, “It may take time, it may be painful at times, it may take a lot of work but it makes you stronger.”
In other business:
Councilman Brian Lynch made a statement in regard to the newspaper industry stating it “Reports all political information.”
Lynch wanted to make it clear [to another daily newspaper] that he did not resign his position of council president, but that his one year term had expired thus making councilman Patrick Rizutto the new sworn in president.
“There are much more important things to say,” Lynch went on to explain. "We want to develop a communication process with the people of Vernon.”
Lynch also acknowledged the fact that he would like the press to focus on more of the “better improvements” that the town has undergone, and is still in the process of achieving.
The Alternative Press had reported the “good” and “not-so-good” moments in Mayor Vic Marotta’s exact words from his annual “state of the township” address at the January 31 meeting.  Click here for link.
The council had also presented as a gesture to the municipal clerk, Susan Nelson, and ladies of the press, roses for Valentine’s Day.
“It’s your day, ladies,” said councilman Dick Wetzel.

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