Generally, public employees are entitled to a hearing before they are terminated. But in some government functions, employees who work at senior levels are deemed to be serving at the pleasure of the head of their agency or unit.
Recent case: Teresa Means-Ferguson worked as an HR manager, a senior-level position, for the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District. The district adopted a hiring rule that stated all senior-level employees served at “the pleasure of the Fire Chief.” The rule also said that such employees had a right to “bump back” to a lower classification.
The fire chief terminated Means-Ferguson without a hearing and without cause. She sued, alleging she was due at least a hearing on whether she had done something to warrant being fired.
The court agreed. (Means-Ferguson v. Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District, No. CO60269, Court of Appeal of California, 3rd Appellate Division, 2010)
- No kid gloves needed: Discipline OK after employee complains
- Employers offering more flexibility on when work happens, less on how much
- At-Will exception protects employees who refuse illegal order … if it's actually illegal
- 3 privacy 'musts' for securing employee data
- Lessons from the Tax Court: deducting business expenses