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Court: Government executives considered at-will employees

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in Human Resources

Some government employees have a “protected property” interest in their jobs. Others are at-will employees. Those with high-level jobs are typically at-will employees.

Recent case: Dora Saucedo-Falls was an assistant police chief in Dallas until she was demoted. She sued.

Under Texas law, employment is at-will, meaning there’s no protected interest unless certain circumstances take the position out of that category. Since Saucedo-Falls held an executive-level job, she needed to show that she had a protected property interest.

The Texas Court of Appeals said under the city charter and ordinances, the city was free to dismiss or demote assistant police chiefs, and that assistant chiefs serve at the pleasure of the chief. Accordingly, employment in that position was considered at-will, and no protected property interest was created. (Saucedo-Falls v. Kunkle, Texas Court of Appeals, No.07-11177, 5th Cir., 2008)

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