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Pocket Guide to Due Process in Public Employment

By Emi Uyehara
Updated by Margot Rosenberg and Kate Hallward
4th edition, 2016

$27 each

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The right to procedural due process is one of the most significant constitutional guarantees provided to citizens in general and to public employees in particular. Its entitlement has been created by statute, charter, ordinance, and other local laws or enactments. This pocket guide provides an overview of due process in public sector employment to assist employees and their employers in understanding their respective rights and obligations.

The guide explains who is protected, what actions are covered, what process is due, remedies for violations, and more. A section focuses on the due process rights afforded to several specific types of employees: state civil service, public officers, police officers, school district employees, and community college district employees. The Pocket Guide also includes a discussion of Skelly and other key cases on due process and the liberty interest.

The Due Process Guide includes:

  • The most recent court decisions and relevant discussion of due process in the collective bargaining context
  • The types of actions subject to due process protections, and those not covered
  • The the process and procedures associated with investigations, pre-deprivation and post-deprivation stages
  • Available remedies for pre- and post- deprivation violations
  • Discussion of the Lybarger/Spielbauer admonition in the investigative stage, application of due process in the lay off context, and exhaustion of administrative processes requirement.

Author Emi Uyehara, now retired, was a partner in the San Francisco law firm of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore. Margot Rosenberg and Kate Hallward are partners in the law firm of Leonard Carder.


I. What is Due Process?1
    A. Introduction 1
    B. Sources of the Right: The U.S. and California Constitutions 2
    C. What Is a Property Interest? 3
    D. Which Employees Have a Property Interest in Continued Employment? 5
    E. Which Employees Do Not Have a Property Interest in Continued Employment? 5
        1. At-Will Employees 5
        2. Probationary Employees 6
        3. Temporary and Substitute Employees 7
    F. What Actions Are Covered? 7
        1. Dismissal 7
        2. Constructive discharge 8
        3. Forced Retirement 8
        4. Suspension Without Pay 8
        5. Involuntary Leave of Absence 9
        6. Demotion Resulting in Pay Reduction 10
        7. Job Abandonment 10
        8. Layoff 12
        9. Exception for Extraordinary Circumstance Requiring Immediate Removal 13
    G. What Actions Are Not Covered? 14
        1. Reprimand 14
        2. Transfer, Reassignment or Removal From Administrative Post 15
        3. Denial of Tenure 17
        4. Loss of Hours of Work 17
        5. Negative Evaluation 17
        6. Placement on Reemployment List 18
    H. What Process is Due? 18
        1. Disciplinary Investigations 18
        2. Pre-Deprivation Due Process Rights 20
            a. Notice of the proposed action 21
            b. Opportunity to respond prior to removal from paid status 22
            c. Remedies for violation of pre-deprivation due process 25
        3. Post-Deprivation Due Process Rights 26
            a. Post-deprivation hearing regarding propriety of short-term suspension 26
            b. Evidentiary hearing regarding significant deprivations of due process 27
            c. Remedies for violations of post-deprivation due process rights 30
    I. Public Employees and the Liberty Interest 32
        1. Elements of the Liberty Interest 33
            a. Stigmatizing charge 34
            b. Denial of the charge 35
            c. Public disclosure of the charge 35
        2. What Process Is Due? 36
            a. The hearing must be held before termination 36
            b. The hearing procedures 37
        3. Availability of Damages 37
        4. Other Sources of Rights for Deprivation Hearings 38
        5. Summary 39
II. Due Process Rights of Specific Types of Employees 40
    A. Public Officers 40
    B. State Civil Service 40
        1. Non-Managerial Employees 40
        2. Managerial Employees 41
    C. Trial Court Employees 41
    D. Police Officers and Firefighters 43
    E. School District Employees 45
        1. Certificated Employees 45
            a. Permanent employees 45
            b. Probationary employees 50
            c. Temporary Employees 51
            d. Other non-regular Employees 52
        2. Classified Employees 53
            a. Non-merit districs 53
            b. Merit districts 54
    F. Community College District Employees 55
        1. Academic Employees 55
            a. Contract employyes 56
            b. Temporary employees 57
        2. Classified Employees 60
            a. Non-merit districs 60
            b. Merit districts 61
    G. Home Care Workers 62
III. Key Cases Regarding Procedural Due Process 65
    A. Pre-Deprivation Procedures 65
    B. Post-Deprivation Procedures 69
    C. Liberty Interest and Procedural Protections 70
    D. Remedies 72
IV. Glossary 68
V. Index of Cases 77
VI. Index of Terms 85