In the Matter of Afolabi Babalola, Juvenile Detention Officer (C2065D), County of Passaic DOP Docket No. 2008-2486 (Merit System Board, decided April 23, 2008) Afolabi Babalola, represented by Eric M. Winston, Esq., appeals the request of the County of Passaic to remove his name from the subject list of eligibles for Juvenile Detention Officer (C2065D), County of Passaic, for failure to comply with the pre-appointment process. By way of background, after being given a conditional offer of employment, Mr. Babalola was initially removed from the subject list of eligibles for failing to pass the required psychological evaluation. Mr. Babalola appealed his psychological disqualification to the Board and appeared before the Medical Review Panel, which recommended that Mr. Babalola be restored to the eligible list. In the attached final administrative determination regarding this matter, In the Matter of Afolabi Babalola (MSB, decided August 29, 2007), the Board accepted the Panel’s recommendation and noted that, absent any disqualification issue ascertained through an updated background check conducted after a conditional offer of appointment, Mr. Babalola’s appointment was otherwise mandated. In compliance with the Board’s order, the appointing authority began the process of hiring Mr. Babalola and engaged him in the regular administrative procedures which were part of its standard hiring practices for Juvenile Detention Officer. As part of this process, Mr. Babalola was required to fill out and sign the usual and customary employee paperwork. One of the forms was entitled “Special Conditions of Employment.” This document specifies areas such as: all employees are subject to mandatory overtime; employees will report to work on time and in uniform; employees must accept any shift assigned and shifts are subject to change at any time with notice as outlined in the Officer’s contract; employees must work weekends and holidays when assigned; and that employees understand that continued employment is dependent on successful completion of the working test period. Mr. Babalola refused to sign this document. Accordingly, the appointing authority sought his removal based on his failure to complete the pre-employment process. On appeal, Mr. Babalola asserts that, were he to sign the form, he would be in violation of the current Labor Agreement between the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Passaic County Youth Detention Center, and CWA Local 1032, Recognition Clause, Section 2.4, which states, “The county agrees that it will not bargain with any employee or group of employees in regard to this agreement except with a duly authorized representative of the Union.” Mr. Babalola argues that he understands he is subject to department rules and regulations regarding such areas as overtime, lateness, and working test period and he understands that that he has an obligation to comply with the terms and conditions of the current Labor Agreement. As justification for his refusal to sign, Mr. Babalola argues that this form was just revised in November 2007 and, therefore, could not have been a condition of employment at the time he originally applied for the position. Accordingly, Mr. Babalola argues that his refusal to sign should not serve as a basis for removing his name from the list at this time. 1 The appointing authority, represented by Jose R. Santiago, Assistant County Counsel, indicates that it began processing Mr. Babalola for employment as a Juvenile Detention Officer in accordance with the August 30, 2007 Merit System Board order. However, Mr. Babalola refused to comply with the established pre-employment process by refusing to sign a document entitled “Special Conditions of Employment.” The appointing authority concedes that the title of this document is something of “a misnomer in that it does not actually provide any ‘special conditions’ not applicable to any other employee at the Juvenile Detention Center.” Unlike other employees, all Juvenile Detention Officers are subject to mandatory overtime, required to wear uniforms, accept shift assignments, and attend the Officer’s training academy, among other areas as noted in the document. The appointing authority contends that Juvenile Detention Officers, like other law enforcement personnel, are employed in a paramilitary setting “requiring that they stringently adhere to rules and regulations of the institution and that they willingly follow general directives without hesitation, mistrust or general disobedience.” Mr. Babalola’s refusal to comply and sign the agreement demonstrates his general antagonism toward the Juvenile Detention Center and the administration. Rather than refusing to sign, the appointing authority argues that a rational person would simply indicate that they were signing under protest. The appointing authority further indicates that Mr. Babalola signed other standard documents not mentioned in the County’s labor agreements, such as the computer/internet/email policy, the criminal background waiver, the sexual harassment policy, the oath of allegiance, and the right to know form. The appointing authority argues that Mr. Babalola’s name should be removed from the subject list for refusal and noncompliance. 1 Interestingly, after the appointing authority began the process of requesting that Mr. Babalola be removed from the list for not signing the document in question, he presented a signed copy to Passaic County. Since Passaic County had already begun the removal process, it did not accept this late acquiescence on Mr. Babalola’s part. N.J.A.C. 4A:4-4.7(a)1, in conjunction with N.J.A.C. 4A:4-6.1(a)9, allows the Merit System Board to remove an eligible’s name from an eligible list for other sufficient reasons. N.J.A.C. 4A:4-6.3(b) provides that, except for medical or psychological disqualification appeals, the appellant shall have the burden of proof. CONCLUSION In the instant situation, the Board is mindful that the Passaic County Juvenile Detention Center is a paramilitary organization and that following orders and compliance with policy are of tantamount importance to assure the safety, not only of Mr. Babalola, but also of his fellow officers and those in their custody. Mr. Babalola’s refusal to sign what is essentially a basic acknowledgement of routine Juvenile Detention Center policy, including such common sense areas as showing up for work on time for work and in uniform, working one’s assigned shift, being subject to mandatory overtime, etc., would be considered insubordination had he completed the pre-employment process and actually started his employment, which would then have been subject to disciplinary action. The Board is not persuaded by Mr. Babalola’s assertion that signing the form in question somehow violates the County’s labor agreement. Even if such a contention were true, the Board has no jurisdiction over contractual matters which must be pursued via a union grievance procedure or the Public Employment Relations Commission. Moreover, nothing in the document appears to be in violation of Merit System law or rules, nor is it unreasonable for Passaic County to require new employees to sign such a document. Consequently, Mr. Babalola’s refusal to comply with the pre-employment process provides a sufficient basis for the appointing authority to remove of his name from the list. Under these circumstances, in view of the position at issue, the Board grants the appointing authority’s request to remove Mr. Babalola’s name from the subject eligible list. ORDER Therefore, it is ordered that this appeal be denied. This is the final administrative determination in this matter. Any further review should be pursued in a judicial forum.