Friday, September 25, 2015

The Commission Ties Its Own Hands

Apparently, the Civil Service Commission doesn’t know its own strength. In a disappointing and surprising decision, the Commission refused to provide meaningful relief to a candidate who had previously won his bypass appeal even though the Town repeatedly violated civil service law (before and after his bypass appeal). The procedural details are messy. Adam Paicos was bypassed for the position of police officer with the Town of Maynard. He appealed his bypass and won. The Commission granted him the relief that typically comes with a successful bypass appeal: placement at the top of the list for one more consideration. After his victory, Maynard attempted – unsuccessfully – to opt out of civil service law.[1] Maynard subsequently appointed police officers without using a civil service list or considering Mr. Paicos. Encouragingly, Mr. Paicos was able to convince the Commission to open up an investigation into Maynard’s hiring practices pursuant to Chapter 31, section 2(a). However, the Commission astoundingly took the position that it was powerless to address what took place. What is so surprising about this decision is that the legislation that empowers the Civil Service Commission, Chapter 310 of the Acts of 1993, explicitly authorizes it “to take such action as will restore and protect” the rights of people “prejudiced through no fault of [their] own,” such as Mr. Paicos. Time and again the courts have upheld the Commissions broad discretion to fashion appropriate relief. Here, the Commission seemed to forget that it had this power in the first place. Hopefully the Commission will remember soon before too many other Cities and Towns attempt to mimic Maynard’s shenanigans. Click here to read the full decision.

[1] Cities and Towns can opt out of civil service law, but Maynard failed to follow the proper procedure here.

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