N. Y. Captains Win Suit
Six captains of the New York Fire Department were upheld by the Courts in their claim that the practice of longterm “temporary” assignments to outof-title jobs without commensurate pay was unconstitutional.
The captains brought suit in 1953 and, when the court ruled adversely, they appealed their case. They had the aid of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, and the Appellate Division reversed the ruling of the court. Then the former Fire Commissioner Jacob Grumet appealed to the state’s highest court.
Justice Charles S. Desmond, who wrote the Court of Appeals opinion, stated that the assignment of Captains to Battalion Chiefs’ duties without appropriate compensation was part of a larger “pattern.” The Commissioner, the court observed, acted in good faith but allowed the practice only because the Budget Director “for reasons of economy refused to issue budget certificates necessary to authorize the Commissioner to appoint eligibles as Battalion Chiefs.”
The opinion held that since the petitioners had qualified for Battalion Chiefs’ positions in competitive examinations, out-of-title assignment under the circumstances involved was totally inconsistent with the whole theory of competitive civil service.