HERM 114-96   DARLENE BAUER ET AL   DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL SERVICE (Classification and Selection Operations Bureau)   DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH (Departmental Employer)   06/11/96

State of Michigan

Department of Civil Service

 

Hearings, Employee Relations and Mediation Division

Technical Appeal Decision

Darlene Bauer, et al.

Mailing Date:

06/11/1996

and

Decision #:

HERM 114-96

Department of Civil Service

(Classification and Selection Operations Bureau)

Departmental Employer

Department of Mental Health

Ref. No(s).:

Key Word(s):

1995-00113

Classification

Case Summary

This CASE SUMMARY is not part of the text of this decision and should not be referenced as such.

HO finds that although Appellants perform occasional duties outside the duties of Typist E7, the preponderance of their work is that of experienced level typists.  HO also finds that the reporting relationship of Appellants to a clerical supervisor properly exists and that they do not report directly to the professionals for whom they perform typing and other duties.  HO denies the appeals.

Technical Hearing Officer

Hearings Reporter

Michael B. Huston

n/a

Appearances

Appellant

Department of Civil Service

Darlene Bauer, Appellant

Marsha Bernard, Appellant

Marilyn Pocialik, Appellant

Jayne Campbell, Appellant

Andrena Destross, Appellant

Chuck Slamer, Personnel Management Analyst

Departmental Employer

^2A technical appeal hearing was held on April 9, 1996, at the Department of Civil Service Labor Relations Center, 608 South Washington Avenue, Lansing, Michigan.  All parties were given full opportunity to present testimonial and documentary evidence, examine and cross-examine witnesses and present oral argument.  The five Appellants all seek to be classified as Secretaries 8.  Appellants did not appeal as a group but their appeals were joined because of their similarity.  At the hearing, the Hearing Officer gave each Appellant an opportunity to present her own opening statement, her own evidence, her own cross-examination, and her own closing statement.  The Hearing Officer has found that the claims of Appellants are so similar that he can join them for purposes of discussion.

Issues

Are Appellant's positions properly classified as Typists 7?

Findings

Four of the Appellants are currently classified as Typists E7 (Benard is now classified as a Secretary 8 in another department).  They seek to be classified as Secretaries E8, effective September 25, 1994 (which is in accordance with CAP C-4 and CSOB calculations of effective date).  As an alternative, they seek to be classified as Typists 8 (the senior level).

The Department has established no senior standards for the Typist classification.  The Bureau of Classification and Compensation1 representative, Mr. Slamer, indicated that he was unaware of any incumbents in State employment who are classified as Typists 8.  If Appellants are to be classified as Typists 8, then they must so qualify under the Universal Senior Standards.

^3Appellant's positions are physically located2 in the Macomb-Oakland Regional Facility.  They perform their job duties for the agency's professional community Services staff.  Typing is an essential part of their range of duties, though it is not the sole duty of any of the positions.

The administrative supervisor for these positions is an Office Supervisor, Janice Guastella.  Her classification is Office Supervisor VI, which is a clerical supervisor.  The Appellants contend that Guastella serves only administratively over them, that Guastella does not direct them in their everyday work.  Guastella's office is not in the same building as Appellant's work areas.  Appellants claim that they report to the group of professionals (the Director of Community Services and the social workers in the office) for their work direction.  The Hearing Officer found that the evidence supports these contentions.

The testimony of the Appellants revealed that they take dictation (Benard testified that this took up to 5% of her time), they prioritize their work, they answer phones (and direct calls and take care of emergency problems that may arise from phone calls), they attend staff meetings and take minutes, they do payroll for clerical and foster care case management staff, they serve as time keepers, they entered appointments on schedules, they keep social workers aware of day-to-day problems, they type service ratings (confidential documents), they receive agency visitors in the lobby, occasionally they compose letters.

Discussion and Conclusion

Appellants present three basic complaints.  They believe that the desk audit did not sufficiently examine their positions for the analyst to be able to observe the full extent of their responsibilities.   They believe that they are in fact serving as Secretaries 8.  Finally, they believe that the only reason that there is any resistance to their being recognized for the work that they ^4perform is that the organization chart for the agency indicates that they administratively report to a Clerical Supervisor, which does not accurately reflect their actual day-to-day work experience.

The first complaint, about the insufficiency of the desk audit, is one about which the Hearing Officer has no control.  The proofs in this case will determine the decision, not someone's impression about the length or adequacy of the desk audit.  If the Appellant's can show that the analyst substantially erred, then the Hearing Officer will make his determination on the basis of the correct information as it is presented at the hearing.  There is no provision for the Hearing Officer to order the analyst to perform the desk audit anew.  Therefore, if Appellant's are right, they have an opportunity to show that they are right.  If the analyst spent an insufficient amount of time performing the desk audit, but nonetheless came to the correct conclusion, then there is no remedy for Appellants.

Appellant's second complaint is that they are already serving as Secretaries 8.  The analyst in this case pointed out things that Appellants do not do that are listed in the Secretary class description.  One item that repeatedly was mentioned was that Appellants do not manage schedules (make appointments without consultation).  Appellant's agreed that they did not manage schedules but held that schedule managing was done entirely by the professionals in the office insofar as it is done at all.  They also held that their failure to manage a schedule should not disqualify them as Secretaries since Secretaries need not perform all the functions listed in the Secretary Class Description in order to be considered properly classified.

Appellants are correct to note that not all functions listed in a Class Series Description need to be performed in order for an employee to be considered properly classified in that class.  However, the duties listed in such a list are supposed to be demonstrative of the level of responsibility and the general nature of the work of a class.  The analyst in this case used the non-performance of the schedule managing function as an example of the type of thing that a secretary would be trusted to do and as something conspicuously lacking from Appellants' duties.  Appellant's did demonstrate that they occasionally took minutes of meetings and typed confidential documents, both of which, they contend, involve higher level responsibility than the typist classification ^5requires.  They also take phone calls which can be emergency calls from clients needing some sort of medical care, and they prepare a payroll for the staff.  Appellants are right to note that these are not normally considered to be duties of typists.  However, Appellants did not satisfy the Hearing Officer that these duties were so substantially a central part of their day-to-day work to justify reclassifying their positions.

This Hearing Officer believes that there is a concept of occasional exploitation which is operative in the classification system.  Some employees possess knowledge, skills, and abilities that are not required for their employment in their classifications.  The occasional exploitation of these should not necessarily be attached to a necessary reclassification.  If such knowledge, skills, and abilities are central to the purpose of the position, then the exploitation of them might justify a reallocation.

In this case, Appellants all seem to be intelligent and articulate.  Those for whom they work (the social workers and Director) have apparently observed this fact and have entrusted to these Appellants certain functions that are not normally associated with typists.  However, such occasional exploitation of their abilities does not change the fact that the central functions they perform are still those of Typists.  For example, there was no showing that if any of them were unable to perform such "higher" functions that she could be found to be unsatisfactory.

The only evidence of quantification of these functions was Benard's testimony that she spends about 5% of her time taking dictation.  That is a fairly significant portion of a position's duties.  However, absent a showing that Benard and the other Appellants spend a substantial portion of their time performing duties that are not in their Position Description and are properly considered to be in another classification, the Hearing Officer can not find them to be improperly classified.

This line of reasoning applies whether the issue involves their being reclassified as Secretaries or just being reallocated to Typists 8.  In both cases, the evidence in the case indicates that they are occasionally used in ways that are not typical to the Typist classification, but they are predominantly assigned duties that are within the ambit of Typist E7.  The preponderance of their ^6duties is fully within that scope.  They are very high-functioning Typists E7, but the evidence does not indicate that they are misclassified or misallocated.

Each of the Appellants complained about what they perceived as blockage to the Secretarial classification because their "administrative" supervisor is a clerical supervisor.  They urged the Hearing Officer to look beyond the "paper" relationship that they have with Supervisor Guastella to perceive that they are actually working for professionals.  The Hearing Officer is not convinced that their perception is correct.  Clearly, Guastella does not direct their work on a task-to-task basis.  These are high-functioning and intelligent employees.  Their task-to-task and day-to-day routines are directed by those for whom their work product is intended.  It is not, however, at all unusual for clerical staff (both in State employment and private sector employment) to have a supervisor who is responsible for discipline and the personnel functions over them but to take work assignments from someone else.  Appellants acknowledged that Guastella signs leave slips and there was no evidence that the professional staff performed any of the personnel functions for the group.  The evidence indicates that Guastella is in fact the supervisor for these employees.  She performs that function from a remote office and with relatively little intrusion into the day-to-day operation of the office, but she is the supervisor.  It is a credit to these employees that they can work with only the guidance of the professionals whom they serve and with relatively little direct supervisory guidance, but this does not mean that Guastella is not their supervisor.

It is possible for the Department to create senior standards for this classification and attempt to have them approved by Civil Service.  If senior standards were developed and properly promulgated, they might apply to these Appellants.  Absent such senior standards, though, the Hearing Officer is constrained to find that, as he said above, the preponderance of Appellant's work falls within the scope of Typist E7.  The occasional performance of more complex duties does not qualify Appellants for Typist 8, which requires that "senior-level employees consistently perform complex assignments beyond those expected at the experienced level which have been approved by Civil Service."

^7Decision

The appeals of the five Appellants are denied.

Dated:  June 11, 1996

/S/ Michael B. Huston

at Lansing, Michigan

Michael B. Huston, Technical Hearing Officer

______________

1 Formerly Classification and Selection Operations Bureau.

2 The HO is using the present tense for all the positions as a matter of convenience.  He does so knowing that Benard is not at the time of the writing of this decision in the same position as the others, but was in the same position as of the time of the request for position review.

This decision may be appealed to the Employment Relations Board within twenty (20) weekdays of the mailing date indicated above.

If this decision upholds the dismissal for cause of an employee, the employee may appeal as of right to the Employment Relations Board.  In all other cases, an employee, appropriate employer, exclusive representative, state personnel director or citizen may appeal upon application and leave granted in the discretion of the Board in accordance with Board Appeals Procedures.

Appeals shall be addressed:  Employment Relations Board, Department of Civil Service, Capitol Commons Center, 400 South Pine Street, P.O. Box 30002, Lansing, Michigan 48909.

This is a publication of the Michigan Civil Service Commission. The written document, as published at the time it was issued, is the most authoritative source of the actual content and format of the decision.