Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

8 in Bergen Plead for Their Jobs

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

8 in Bergen Plead for Their Jobs

Article excerpt

Lawyers for eight Bergen County employees who are slated to be laid off Thursday have asked a federal appeals court to block that action, which they claim was politically motivated.

"This case involves the lives of civil servants whose livelihoods have been jeopardized because of who they supported or did not support in an election," Anthony M. Rainone, a lawyer representing the eight, wrote in a motion filed Friday with the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

"In the United States of America and New Jersey, such politically motivated actions by a government employer are illegal," Rainone added.

Attorneys for County Executive James Tedesco and his administration have countered that the employees -- part of a group of 21 county workers issued layoff notices on Nov. 1 -- have failed to show sufficient proof that they are being singled out because of their support of Republican Kathleen Donovan, the county executive whom Tedesco, a Democrat, defeated in the November 2014 election.

"Appellants fail to recite anything more than that they were affiliated with [Tedesco's] rival or that they did not support Tedesco," wrote Phillip G. George, representing the county, in a response filed with the court on Monday.

"They do not state any basis beyond their 'belief' to show that [the county, Tedesco, County Personnel Director Ralph Kornfeld or County Administrator Dominic Novelli] deliberately targeted them for layoffs a year after the new administration took office."

George argued that the layoffs are for reasons of "economy and efficiency" and that the county administration had complied with Civil Service rules. He noted that none of the other employees issued layoff notices had joined the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Newark on Dec. 14.

He said the lawsuit inaccurately claims the county added 597 new employees this year, a figure that, he said, failed to take into account seasonal workers and others who had retired or left county government. …

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