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Pocket Guide to the Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights Act

By J. Scott Tiedemann
Reviewed by Christopher Platten
4th edition, 2017

$27 each

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On October 13, 2007, the Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights Act was signed into law, giving California firefighters many of the same rights as peace officers, and more. The new act is clearly covered in CPER’s latest publication: Pocket Guide to the Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights Act. Portable, readable, and affordable, the CPER guide provides an overview of the requirements of the act — a clear explanation of who’s covered and the extent of that coverage; how a disciplinary investigation is started and what to expect concerning interrogation, privacy, discipline, administrative appeals, remedies; and more. The guide includes the text of the Act as well as pertinent provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act applicable to appeals; a table of cases, and glossary of terms.

Since cases decided under the PSOPBRA are likely to influence how the courts interpret the FBOR, a chapter provides a synopsis of major court decisions under that act. Differences between the two laws are highlighted.

Part of CPER’s Pocket Guide Series, the Guide is designed for firefighters of all ranks and for their employee organizations and employers in the State of California, and any city, county, municipal corporation, public district, or public authority that provides firefighting, police, ambulance, medical, or other emergency services. The booklet provides a description of the broad range of rights and obligations conferred by the statute.

Author J. Scott Tiedemann is a partner with Liebert Cassidy Whitmore. LCW has decades of experience representing and counseling public safety agencies in personnel matters. They are experts in issues involving the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act and the Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights Act. Reviewer Christopher Platten is a partner with Wylie, McBride, Platten and Renner, in San Jose.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. Introduction1
II. Coverage of the Act3
    A. Employers Covered3
    B. Employees Covered4
    C. Extent of Coverage5
        1. Events and circumstances involving the 'performance of official duties.'5
        2. Investigations by licensing and certifying agencies. 7
III. Disciplinary Investigations 8
    A. Starting an Investigation 8
    B. The Interrogation 9
        1. Distinguishing between interrogations and other supervisory contacts. 9
            a. City of Los Angeles v. Superior Court (Labio) 9
            b. Steinert v. City of Covina. 10
        2. Procedural requirements for interrogations. 11
            a. Time of the interrogation 11
            b. Pre-interrogation admonitions 12
            c. Length of the interrogation. 12
            d. Threats/inducements prohibited 12
            e. Recording the interrogation. 13
            f. The right to representation. 13
        3. Special requirements when criminal charges are possible 13
            a. Advisement of constitutional rights 14
            b. Immunity 14
    C. Disclosure of Investigation Materials 15
        1. Pre-interrogation 15
        2. Post-interrogation 15
    D. Reassignment 16
    E. Privacy 17
        1. Workplace searches 17
        2. Financial disclosure 17
        3. Lie detector tests 17
        4. Media 18
IV. Discipline 19
    A. The Statute of Limitations 19
        1. Disciplinary notices 21
V. Administrative Appeals 23
    A. Entitlement to an Administrative Appeal 26
    B. Scope of the Appeal Hearing 27
        1. Informal hearing procedure 28
        2. Formal hearing procedure. 28
            a. The Accusation 29
            b. Statement to Respondent 29
            c. Service of the Accusation and Statement to Respondent 28
            d. Notice of Defense 29
            e. Amended or Supplemental Accusation 30
VI. Personnel Files 32
    A. Adverse Comments 32
    B. Right to Review Personnel Records 35
    C. Requests to Correct 'Inaccurate Information' 35
VII. Remedies 36
VIII. Statutes 37
    A. The Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights Act 37
    B. The Administrative Procedure Act (Chapters 4.5 and 5) 48
IX. Major Court Decisions 83
    A. Coverage of the Act 84
    B. Interrogation Rights 84
    C. Preemption and Local Rules 86
    D. Punitive Action, Appeal Rights: Pay Loss
(Including Reduction While on Probation)
86
    E. Punitive Action, Appeal Rights: Personnel Documents 87
    F. Punitive Action, Appeal Rights: Transfer 87
    G. Punitive Action, Appeal Rights: Appeal Format 88
    H. Adverse Comments: Right to Respond 88
X. Glossary of Terms 90
XI. Table of Cases 94
XII. Index 98