The Petitioner, William Barry, appealed timely under G.L. c. 32, § 16(4) the November 29, 2007 decision of the Respondent, State Board of Retirement, to classify him in Group 1, rather than Group 2, for retirement purposes. (Exs. 1, 2.)
I held a hearing on June 16, 2009 at the office of the Division of Administrative Law Appeals, 98 North Washington Street, Boston.
I admitted ten documents into evidence. (Exs. 1-10.) The Petitioner testified on his own behalf. The Respondent called no witnesses. There is one cassette tape of the hearing.
FINDINGS OF FACT
Based on the evidence presented by the parties, I make the following findings of
1. William Barry, d.o.b. 4/10/47, has worked for the Holyoke/Chicopee Area Office of the Department of Mental Retardation since May 17, 1973. (Testimony.)
2. Currently, Mr. Barry holds the position of Human Service Coordinator-C. (Testimony; Exs. 4, 5.)
3. The Area Office in Holyoke employs approximately twenty-five people. The office is run by an Area Director, who supervises Mr. Barry and his colleague, Ed Manley. Mr. Manley is also a Human Service Coordinator-C. (Testimony.)
4. Mr. Barry supervises eight Human Service Coordinators who are either at the A or B level. (Testimony.)
5. The office also employs a psychologist, a nurse, two administrative assistants, an Assistant Area Director, and a program monitor. (Testimony.)
6. Mr. Barry works five days per week from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Testimony.)
7. The Position Description, Form 30, for the position of Human Service Coordinator-C lists the following general duties and responsibilities:
Provides supervision, support, consultation and orientation to assigned Human Services Coordinators, or other staff; assigns and monitors workloads; participates, as functional member of Area management team in all Area planning, policy development and resource allocation activity; reviews and monitors the individual support planning process; compiles, maintains and prepares statistics and resources services data; oversees special projects as assigned; reviews and signs off on Individual Support Plans for compliance with regulatory requirements, and consistency with applicable policy, procedure and guiding principles of the Department; provides oversight and review of all public safety and risk issues, and participates in Risk Management Committee; participates in training role, including field interagency and provider trainings; performs other duties as required.
8. Mr. Barry's duties also include working closely with families, guardians and service providers to educate them in the Department's mission and guiding principles; acting as a role model for collaborative and constructive partnership relationships with service providers; and coordinating internal and external contacts that facilitate information flow and problem solving within the Department and between the Department and external agencies, including ongoing coordination with the legal office, revenue department, transportation coordinator, human rights specialist, the Social Security Administration, and the healthcare system. (Ex. 5.)
9. On a typical day, Mr. Barry arrives at 8:30 a.m. He spends the morning checking the Incident Report System to see if anything that requires his attention happened overnight. He also checks with the Human Service Coordinators under his supervision to see if anything in particular requires his attention. Then he checks his email account for any duties that he has been assigned by the office's Area Director. (Testimony.)
10. The rest of the morning consists of a variety of tasks, including conversation with the staff under his supervision, completing paperwork, visiting service sites, attending contract meetings, and between four and six client meetings each week. (Testimony.)
11. After lunch, Mr. Barry engages in roughly the same variety of tasks as he does each morning. (Testimony.)
12. Twice each week, Mr. Barry participates in a management meeting, each of which takes between two and one half hours and four hours. (Testimony.)
13. At all times, either Mr. Barry or his colleague, Ed Manley, another Human Service Coordinator-C, is in the office to field calls and to provide supervision to the roughly sixteen employees who report to them. (Testimony.)
14. Once or twice each month, Mr. Barry and one of the persons under his supervision visit a client with the aid of a police officer, after Mr. Barry has determined that the visit has the potential to become violent. (Testimony.)
15. In October 2007, Mr. Barry requested classification in Group 2 for retirement purposes and submitted two Form 30 job descriptions and a Class Specification packet for the position of Human Service Coordinator. (Testimony; Exs. 4, 5, 6, 7.)
16. The Board denied Mr. Barry's request for Group 2 classification at its meeting held November 29, 2007 and so notified him by letter dated November 30, 2007. (Ex. 1.)
17. Mr. Barry filed a timely appeal of the Board's decision on December 10, 2007. (Ex. 2.)
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
The decision of the State Board of Retirement is affirmed. William Barry is properly classified in Group 1, rather than Group 2, for retirement purposes.
G.L. c. 32, § 3(2)(g), provides for a system of classification of employees for retirement purposes. Group 1 includes "[o]fficials and general employees including clerical, administrative and technical workers, laborers, mechanics and all others not otherwise classified." G.L. c. 32, § 3(2)(g). Group 2 includes in pertinent part "employees of the commonwealth or of any county, regardless of official classification . . . whose regular and major duties require them to have the care, custody, instruction or other supervision of persons who are mentally ill or mentally defective . . . ." Id. (emphasis added).
The Petitioner contends that, since his job duties as a supervisor required him periodically to engage in contacts with potentially dangerous clients and since several of the people who Mr. Barry supervises have been classified in Group 2, he meets the statutory requirements outlined in G.L. c. 32, § 3(2)(g), for classification in Group 2.
The Respondent does not dispute that the Petitioner occasionally exposed himself to potentially dangerous "mentally ill or mentally defective" clients. The Respondent, however, argues that Mr. Barry's regular and major duties were administrative and supervisory in nature and that he was only involved in direct care for clients as an adjunct to his regular and major duties.
Classification is "properly based on the sole consideration of [the applicant's] duties at the time of retirement." Maddocks v. Contributory Retirement Appeal Bd., 369 Mass. 488, 494 (1975). The applicant's duties are largely determined by consulting his or her title or job description. See Gaw v. Contributory Retirement Appeal Bd., 4 Mass. App. Ct. 250, 256 (1976).
After careful consideration of all the testimony and documents presented in this case, I conclude that Mr. Barry's "regular and major duties" consisted of supervising human service coordinators at Levels A and B and performing the extensive administrative duties listed in his job description. G.L. c. 32, § 3(2)(g). Mr. Barry's job description contains primarily supervisory and administrative duties, including providing supervision, support, consultation and orientation to Human Service Coordinators; assigning and monitoring workloads; participating as a member of the Area management team in all Area planning, policy development and resource allocation activity; reviewing and monitoring the individual support planning process; compiling statistics and resources services data; overseeing special projects as assigned; providing oversight and review of all public safety and risk issues, and participating in the risk management committee; and training service providers and coordinating internal and external contacts within the Department and between the Department and external agencies.
While Mr. Barry may have come in contact with "mentally ill or mentally defective" persons while discharging these duties, it is clear from his job description and his own testimony that he was not responsible for the "care, custody, instruction or other supervision of persons who are mentally ill or mentally defective . . . ." G.L. c. 32, § 3(2)(g). The care of the mentally ill or mentally defective clients under the care of the Holyoke/Chicopee Area Office of the Department of Mental Retardation is the primary responsibility of the approximately sixteen persons classified as Human Service Coordinator-A and Human Service Coordinator-B who were under the supervision of either Mr. Barry or Mr. Manley.
When asked to describe a typical work day, Mr. Barry listed largely administrative and supervisory duties and only occasional direct care of clients. At all times, either Mr. Barry or Mr. Manley are in the office to field calls and provide direct supervision to the employees in their charge, which means Mr. Barry spends at least half his work time in the office. While Mr. Barry does have several client meetings each week, these activities do not constitute "regular and major duties" because direct client care was ancillary to his administrative and supervisory work. G.L. c. 32, § 3(2)(g). The Petitioner's job description demonstrates that his job was basically an administrative one, and the Petitioner's description of a typical work day confirms that.
Mr. Barry argues that he should be classified in Group 2 because his job requires him to provide emergency or crisis intervention, which poses a potential risk of danger. As has been discussed, however, these duties are performed on an as needed basis and only sporadically. Moreover, such periodic involvement does not amount to care, custody or supervision, as used in G.L. c. 32, § 3(2)(g). See Serafin v. State Bd. of Retirement, CR-06-160 (DALA 2008) (R.N.-IV Administrative Supervisor at Worcester State Hospital properly classified in Group 1); Horne v. State Bd. of Retirement, CR-01-502 (DALA 2002) (R.N.-V at the Dever School properly classified in Group 1).
Likewise, being exposed to danger on the job is not a factor in whether or not one is entitled to Group 2 classification. See, e.g., Pickett v. State Bd. of Retirement, CR-06-447 (DALA 2007) (Licensed Social Worker with Administrative Assistant II job title at a mental health facility, who investigated resident/client complaints by conducting interviews and who occasionally suffered assaults from combative residents/clients, not entitled to Group 2 classification because his regular and major duties did not include care, custody, supervision, or instruction of the residents/clients).
The Petitioner is, therefore, properly classified in Group 1 for retirement purposes. The decision of the Board is affirmed.
DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATIVE LAW APPEALS
Kenneth J. Forton, Esq.