The Constitution protects public employees, from deprivations of life, liberty, or property without due process. Public employees are entitled to due process, when their public employer’s action adversely affects the employees liberty or property interest. Property interests are usually created by state or local law, including a civil service system or a contract.
In Skelly v. State Personnel Board (1975) 15 Cal. 3d 194, the California Supreme Court ruled that, the constitutionally protected liberty interests requiring Skelly protections arise whenever the allegations against an employee are sufficiently onerous to seriously impact the employee’s ability to find future work in his/her chosen career.
Since Skelly is a constitutionally required due process mandate, employees entitled to Skelly protections must be given proper notice of an intended disciplinary action and a fair chance to respond to the charges against them prior to the implementation of serious discipline. Once the employee has had the opportunity to respond to the charges the public entity can move forward with the discipline however the employee still has the right to appeal the public entity’s decision in a full evidentiary hearing.
Correctly determining whether a public employee is entitled to due process and, if so, what kind of process requires sound legal analysis and judgment. The attorneys at Public Employees Legal guide employees through the complex laws involved and represent employees in due process proceedings.