Tarkong pursues court action vs DPS

DPS counsel says even Tarkong admits he is not eligible for sergeant position
Jason T. Tarkong

Jason T. Tarkong

Police officer Jason T. Tarkong intends to pursue his discrimination lawsuit against the Department of Public Safety, asserting that “a grievance is about righting a wrong.”

Tarkong, through counsel Robert T. Torres, said that DPS, despite admitting errors in the selection process, considers the nature of Tarkong’s grievance as an appeal over his non-selection for a promotion and essentially seeks to dismiss his grievance, in essence arguing that even if they did it wrong, it doesn’t mean he is right.

Torres said DPS’ position demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of Tarkong’s grievance.

Torres said Tarkong has grieved the process followed under examination announcement no. 15-052—a process that resulted in a former police officer 2 (who was not eligible for reemployment priority listing) and a serving police officer 1 (who leap-frogged two promotion levels in the process) to be awarded the positions of sergeant even though experience as a police officer 3 was a requirement—not that he should have been selected.

Torres said Tarkong’s petition seeks judicial review of DPS and Civil Service Commission’s inaction on his grievance.

Tarkong, a veteran of the CNMI’s police force, is suing DPS and CSC for alleged discriminatory practices after he was not promoted to the rank of sergeant. CSC has already been dismissed from the case.

DPS, through assistant attorney general Tom Schweiger, moved for the dismissal of Tarkong’s petition.

Schweiger said the CNMI law doesn’t allow for job applicants to a civil service position to complain that they should have been chosen over other eligible candidates.

Schweiger said the hiring and promotion process would be shut down if every non-successful applicant could demand a hearing why they and not the other guy should have been hired.

In this case, Schweiger pointed out that Tarkong alleges that none of the applicants on the list were eligible, but he even admits that he too was ineligible.

He said Tarkong suffered no harm because he didn’t get the position.

Schweiger added that Civil Service regulations specifically prohibits Tarkong from complaining about his non-selection.

In Tarkong’s opposition, Torres said the grievance process for CNMI employees allows them to seek review of a wrong in order to set it right, including a wrong committed by the government for failure to follow the Personnel Service System Rules and Regulations and the Civil Service Act.

Torres said DPS’ arguments show the manner in which it has addressed Tarkong’s grievance: ignore it, deny responsibility for it, “kick the can down the road” to deal with it later, or hope it just goes away.

Rather than encouraging a hearing to take place to further employee acceptance and support of the merit promotion program, DPS instead chose to fight such openness with a motion to dismiss that fails to give the court guidance on the standard it is to apply, and is unsupported by facts, Torres said.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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