A. Any permanent employee who is suspended, demoted, or dismissed, or any permanent public safety officer who is disciplined by punitive actions as outlined in the Public Safety Officer’s Procedural Bill of Rights Act, may appeal such action by filing a notice of appeal with the County Personnel Director within 10 working days after the effective date of the notice/order of disciplinary action. Within 10 working days after the effective date of the order, such employee shall file with the County Personnel Director an answer in writing to the charges set forth in the order of disciplinary action.
The Personnel Director shall review said order, notice of appeal and the basis of the appeal (the answer) and may, if he or she deems it appropriate, hold a meeting to discuss the disciplinary action and appeal with the employee and/or his or her representative and with the appointing authority. In the event an agreement regarding disposition of the matter cannot be reached within 15 working days after filing of the answer to the charges, the County Personnel Director will contact the state of California, Office of Administrative Hearings, at the earliest possible time to request the assignment of a Hearing Officer to hear the appeal. Said Hearing Officer will commence hearing the matter as soon as possible. In the event a State Hearing Officer is not reasonably available, the parties may mutually select an individual to conduct a hearing. The parties may mutually agree to the extension of any time lines provided for in this section.
B. If the employee alleges in his or her answer that the suspension, demotion or dismissal resulted from retaliation for the exercise of the employee’s rights, or discrimination based on age, ethnicity, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, or handicap, and provides a statement of facts to support same, this issue shall be the first issue to be considered on appeal if (1) the employee’s allegation is supported by a written statement of facts from the employee or his or her representative providing reasonable grounds to believe that suspension, demotion or dismissal was improper and (2) the written statement is deemed by the Hearing Officer to be sufficiently clear and concrete to permit a hearing on the issue.
C. Hearing. The following rules shall apply to any appeal hearing:
1. The hearing shall be private unless the employee requests that the matter be heard publicly.
3. Subpoenas for attendance or the production of documents at the hearing shall be issued in accordance with Cal. Gov’t. Code § 11510.
4. The hearing shall be conducted in accordance with evidence rules as outlined in Cal. Gov’t. Code § 11513.
5. The county and the employee (as the appealing party) shall mutually share all costs related to the hearing, including without limitation, all fees of the Hearing Officer. Other costs including attorney fees shall be borne by the party who incurs said costs.
D. Decision. The Hearing Officer shall, within 15 working days after said hearing, make a finding as to whether the employee was suspended, demoted, or dismissed for reasonable cause and shall also make a recommendation as to the appropriate disposition of the case.
The Hearing Officer shall forward written findings and recommendations to the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, the appropriate appointing authority, the County Personnel Director and the employee. These findings and recommendations shall be presented to the Board at its next regular meeting (subject to Brown Act agenda requirements).
In cases where unlawful retaliation or discrimination based on age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, or handicap is alleged and proven, the Hearing Officer shall have the authority to reinstate the employee without prejudice. Such a decision, which shall be supported by the written findings of the Hearing Officer, shall be final and binding upon all parties and shall not be subject to any modification by the Board of Supervisors; provided, however, the Board may elect to seek judicial review of any such determination, which review shall be under the rules of Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 1094.5 to determine if the decision is supported by substantial evidence. In all other instances, the Board will take the findings and recommendations of the Hearing Officer under advisement and will render a decision within 21 calendar days after the presentation of said findings and recommendations to the Board.
E. The Board may:
1. Adopt the proposed decision of the Hearing Officer in its entirety; or
2. Alter the proposed penalty and adopt the balance of the proposed decision; or
3. Refer the case to the same Hearing Officer to take additional evidence; or
4. Decide the case upon the record, including the transcript; with or without taking additional evidence. If such additional evidence is taken, the Board shall afford the parties the opportunity to present either oral or written argument before the Board itself.
The decision shall be in writing and shall contain findings of fact, a determination of the issues presented, and the penalty, if any. The findings may be stated in the language of the pleadings or by reference thereto.
The decision shall become effective upon adoption by the Board unless the Board orders that the decision shall become effective at another date.
F. Judicial Review. Judicial review may be had by either the employee or the county by filing a petition for a writ of mandate in accordance with the provisions of the Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 1094.5. Such petition shall be filed not later than the thirtieth day following the date on which the decision becomes effective.
G. Default. If employee fails to file an answer or to appear at the hearing without good cause, the employee will be considered to be in default and action may be taken without further hearing. Good cause for failure to time answer or to appear shall be made, in any event, within 48 hours following any such failure.
H. Letters of Reprimand. Any permanent employee except an elective official may be reprimanded by the appropriate appointing authority which shall be in writing and a copy shall be entered in his/her personnel file. An employee shall have 30 calendar days within which to file a written response to any adverse written comment entered into the personnel file, and such written response shall be attached to the adverse comment. No right of appeal shall exist with regard to a written reprimand to an employee; provided, however, that the employee may file a grievance under Chapter 3.11 SCC. Letters of reprimand will be removed from an employee’s personnel file following three years from the date of issuance, if no further letters or disciplinary action is taken against the employee and the employee has received satisfactory job evaluations.