A Superior Court judge ruled that the State of New Jersey must pay thousands of corrections officers back pay for participating in a pilot program that lasted 10 years longer than its experimental phase. The ruling makes the State liable for millions of dollars in pay from 1999 to 2009 during a 14-week training period for each officer.
The lawsuit examines a program the State started in January 1998 to set the pay and training for newly hired Department of Corrections (which runs prisons) employees. Before that, new hires were classified as “Corrections Officer Recruits” and were trained for 14 weeks while they worked at correctional facilities for a regular salary. Under the pilot program, new hires worked under the job title “Student/Trainee” during a 14-week training phase where they earned a stipend maxing out at $300 a week. That student/trainee title was allowed to exist for 10 years even though the State did not certify it until 2009. As a result, the State was paying people under a job title that did not exist which violates civil service laws.