Diving Into the Rule of Three

Diving Into the Rule of Three

Diving Into the Rule of Three


The New Jersey Civil Service Commision has enacted the “Rule of Three” to further prevent unlawful discrimination, nepotism, or other types of favoritism in civil service agencies and departments. This law requires that all hiring and promotions be based on merit and demonstrated ability. In order to ensure this, applicants for a job must be judged through an objective examination whenever possible. Following the examination, a list of the three most qualified candidates is formed. The appointer of the position must choose from this list. If they do not choose to appoint the first ranking, most qualified, candidate they must provide a written statement with valid reasons why they chose one of the lesser ranking candidates. Ultimately, this rule is intended to help hardworking, qualified people continue to progress their career and work to eliminate hiring biases. Below we will be diving into the Rule of Three discussing who it affects and how.


Hiring Biases and Discrimination in 2020

            While it may seem obvious that the most qualified candidates should be those considered for a position, there is no denying the prevalence of discrimination in the workplace still. In 2019, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported 1,480 discrimination lawsuits in New Jersey. Surprisingly, this was the lowest reported number in 9 years. The addition of anti-discrimination laws, such as the Rule of Three, have brought awareness to discrimination patterns and forced institutions to remain accountable. In fact, a report by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, showed employees perceptions of all types of discrimination in the workplace have decreased significantly from 1992 to 2010. Having explicit laws that outline stringent requirements to avoid hiring biases, ultimately, makes it easier to prove when discrimination is present.

Third Party Examiners

In addition, the Rule of Three works to eliminate hiring biases by involving third party examiners. In many private businesses especially, it pays to have connections. Nepotism and favoritism often cause well-deserving people to miss out on job opportunities and promotions. Favoring someone based on familial ties or personal affinities does not assure the most qualified person is rewarded with growth opportunities. While this cannot be as well regulated in the private sector, in civil service positions it is important to assure all citizens have equal opportunity to grow their career. Plus, it is important that our governmental roles are filled with the most qualified people for the job in order for our country to operate most effectively. Third party examiners eliminate nepotism and favoritism from the hiring process by simply focusing on the merit and demonstrated ability of applicants.


How the Rule of Three Can Be Used in a Court of Law

            Again, rules and laws condemning workplace discrimination can make it easier to prove when an act discrimination has happened. For example, the Rule of Three requires that a written statement with valid reasons must be given in the event that the top ranked candidate is not appointed for the position. If the person passed up for the position feels they are a victim of discrimination, the courts have a written document to examine and conclude if the reasons given were valid. Furthermore, if the reasons given are not adequately explained, a court can automatically order that the institution did not satisfy the Rule of Three.


What to Do If You Are A Victim of Discrimination

            If you live in New Jersey and feel you have been a victim of unlawful discrimination under the Rule of Three, or any other anti-discrimination laws, you have legal rights. Employment claims can, however, involve many complex legal questions. Lawyer David H. Kaplan has 30 years of experience dealing with New Jersey employment cases and is dedicated to protecting your rights. For a free case evaluation, visit dkaplanlaw.com or check out his Instagram.