HB 1908 - Bibb County; civil service system; amend provisions

Georgia House of Representatives - 1995/1996 Sessions

HB 1908 - Bibb County; civil service system; amend provisions

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House Comm: LLeg / Senate Comm: / House Vote: Yeas Nays Senate Vote: Yeas Nays ---------------------------------------- House Action Senate ---------------------------------------- 3/18/96 Read 1st Time ---------------------------------------- Rules Suspended to Introduce Code Sections amended:
HB 1908 LC 10 1730 A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT 1- 1 To change certain provisions creating the Civil Service 1- 2 System and Board of Bibb County pursuant to an amendment to 1- 3 Article VII, Section IV, Paragraph I of the Constitution of 1- 4 Georgia of 1945, approved March 9, 1955 (Ga. L. 1955, p. 1- 5 682), which amendment was continued in force and effect 1- 6 pursuant to an ordinance adopted by the governing authority 1- 7 of Bibb County pursuant to Article XI, Section I, Paragraph 1- 8 IV of the Constitution of the State of Georgia, adopted 1- 9 August 5, 1988 (Ga. L. 1988, p. 5122), as amended, so as to 1-10 change the definition of a certain term; to change the 1-11 provisions relating to the hearing of appeals and complaints 1-12 respecting the administrative work of the secretary; to 1-13 change the provisions relating to demotions; to change the 1-14 provisions relating to suspensions; to change the provisions 1-15 relating to layoffs and leaves of absence without pay; to 1-16 change the provisions relating to dismissals and other 1-17 disciplinary actions against employees in the civil service 1-18 system; to change the provisions relating to hearings and 1-19 request for hearings; to change the authority of hearing 1-20 officers; to change the provisions relating to evidence in 1-21 hearings; to change certain hearing procedures; to provide 1-22 for the appointment and compensation of hearing officers; to 1-23 change certain procedures relating to appeals; to provide 1-24 for appeals to the board and for review of a board's 1-25 decision pursuant to a petition for certiorari to the 1-26 Superior Court of Bibb County; to provide for related 1-27 matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes. 1-28 BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA: SECTION 1. 1-29 The Civil Service System and Board of Bibb County created 1-30 pursuant to an amendment to Article VII, Section IV, 1-31 Paragraph I of the Constitution of Georgia of 1945, approved 1-32 March 9, 1955 (Ga. L. 1955, p. 682), which amendment was 1-33 continued in force and effect pursuant to an ordinance 1-34 adopted by the governing authority of Bibb County pursuant -1- (Index) LC 10 1730 2- 1 to Article XI, Section I, Paragraph IV of the Constitution 2- 2 of the State of Georgia, adopted August 5, 1988 (Ga. L. 2- 3 1988, p. 5122), as amended, is amended by striking in its 2- 4 entirety paragraph (9) of Part 2 and inserting in lieu 2- 5 thereof a new paragraph (9) to read as follows: 2- 6 "(9) 'Hearing officer' means an attorney appointed by the 2- 7 board in consultation with the secretary to serve as the 2- 8 hearing officer in accordance with Parts 19A, 19B, 19C, 2- 9 and 19D of this Act." SECTION 2. 2-10 Said Act is further amended by striking in its entirety 2-11 paragraph (b) of subsection (5) of Part 3 and inserting in 2-12 lieu thereof a new paragraph (b) to read as follows: 2-13 "(b) To hear and determine appeals and complaints 2-14 respecting the administrative work of the secretary filed 2-15 with the board by any appointing authority or classified 2-16 employee and such other matters as may be filed with the 2-17 secretary, except that matters for which a hearing is 2-18 allowed under Part 19A of this Act shall be heard and 2-19 determined by a hearing officer." SECTION 3. 2-20 Said Act is further amended by striking Part 16 in its 2-21 entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Part 16 to read 2-22 as follows: "Part 16 DEMOTIONS. 2-23 An appointing authority may, in accordance with the rules 2-24 and regulations established by the board, demote for cause 2-25 a classified employee under the appointing authority's 2-26 jurisdiction from a position in one class to a position in 2-27 a lower class but only after the employee and the 2-28 secretary have been notified in writing of such 2-29 contemplated action. When, and only when, such demotion 2-30 results in a reduction in prestige, responsibility, and 2-31 pay, such employee so demoted shall have the right to 2-32 appeal such demotion under the provisions of Parts 19A, 2-33 19B, and 19C of this Act. Any such appeal shall be heard 2-34 and determined by a hearing officer who can then approve 2-35 such demotion or reinstate the employee to his or her 2-36 former position if, in his or her opinion, the demotion is 2-37 not justified." -2- (Index) LC 10 1730 SECTION 4. 3- 1 Said Act is further amended by striking Part 17 in its 3- 2 entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Part 17 to read 3- 3 as follows: "Part 17. SUSPENSIONS. 3- 4 (1) An appointing authority may, in accordance with the 3- 5 rules and regulations established by the board, upon 3- 6 giving written notice to an employee and the secretary, 3- 7 suspend a classified employee for disciplinary purposes 3- 8 without pay for a period not to exceed 30 days in any 12 3- 9 month period. Any employee so suspended shall be 3-10 considered just cause for dismissal. The dismissed 3-11 employee shall have an opportunity to answer the charges 3-12 in writing within ten days and file with the board 3-13 affidavits in support of such answer. All papers filed in 3-14 the case shall be subject to inspection by the persons 3-15 affected. Such action of the appointing authority shall 3-16 be final, except the board may reinstate an officer or 3-17 employee so removed if it appears after proper hearing 3-18 that the removal was made for political or religious 3-19 reasons and not justified. The board, after proper 3-20 investigation of the circumstances surrounding the 3-21 dismissal and the fairness thereof, may approve the 3-22 transfer or reemployment of the employee involved either 3-23 to the same position or to a lower position as the board 3-24 may direct; provided, however, that the board within 30 3-25 days from any action removing, demoting, or suspending any 3-26 officer or employee may, on its own motion or on the 3-27 motion of any party, reopen the case and vacate, modify, 3-28 or revise its former order so as to lessen but not 3-29 increase the penalty imposed; but after the end of such 30 3-30 days, the board shall not have the authority to reopen 3-31 such case for any cause. 3-32 (2) The county commissioners shall have the right to 3-33 prefer charges against any employee in the classified 3-34 service for violation of any civil service rule or 3-35 regulation, in which case the employee against whom such 3-36 charges are filed shall have an opportunity to answer the 3-37 charges in writing within ten days after written notice 3-38 thereof and to file with the board affidavits in support 3-39 of such answer. Thereafter, the proceedings shall be the 3-40 same as in cases where an employee has been suspended, -3- (Index) LC 10 1730 4- 1 demoted, or discharged by an appointing authority in 4- 2 accordance with the provisions of this part." SECTION 5. 4- 3 Said Act is further amended by striking Part 18 in its 4- 4 entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Part 18 to read 4- 5 as follows: "Part 18. 4- 6 LAYOFF AND LEAVE OF ABSENCE WITHOUT PAY. 4- 7 An appointing authority may lay off a classified employee 4- 8 whenever he or she deems it requisite due to unusual 4- 9 conditions or shortage or stoppage of work or funds. In 4-10 every case of this kind, the appointing authority shall, 4-11 before the effective date thereof, give written notice of 4-12 this contemplated action to the employee involved and to 4-13 the secretary. Any person who has been appointed to a 4-14 position in the classified service, or who shall have 4-15 attained civil service status under the provisions of this 4-16 Act, other than a temporary or provisional appointee, and 4-17 who has been laid off for the reasons stated in this part 4-18 shall have his or her name placed on an appropriate 4-19 reemployment register. Any leave of absence for a period 4-20 in excess of three consecutive months as provided in this 4-21 Act shall be obtained only with the approval of the 4-22 secretary." SECTION 6. 4-23 Said Act is further amended by striking Part 19 in its 4-24 entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Part 19 to read 4-25 as follows: "Part 19. REMOVAL. 4-26 (1) Any appointing authority may dismiss a subordinate in 4-27 the classified service for cause, upon filing with the 4-28 secretary a copy of written notice furnished the employee 4-29 to be removed and setting forth in detail the reason for 4-30 such action before the effective date of such removal. 4-31 Willful violation of the rules and regulations established 4-32 by the appointing authority for employees under his or her 4-33 direction, conduct unbecoming to an officer, and 4-34 disobedience to the lawful order of a superior officer 4-35 shall each be considered just cause for dismissal. The 4-36 dismissed employee shall have an opportunity to answer the 4-37 charges in writing within ten days and file with the -4- (Index) LC 10 1730 5- 1 secretary affidavits in support of such answer. All 5- 2 papers filed in the case shall be subject to inspection by 5- 3 the persons affected. Such action of the appointing 5- 4 authority shall be final, except the hearing officer may 5- 5 reinstate an officer or employee so removed in case it 5- 6 appears after proper hearing that the removal was made for 5- 7 political or religious reasons and not justified. The 5- 8 hearing officer, after proper investigation of the 5- 9 circumstances surrounding the dismissal and the fairness 5-10 thereof, may approve the transfer or reemployment of the 5-11 employee involved to the same position or to a lower 5-12 position as the hearing officer may direct. 5-13 (2) The county commissioners shall have the right to 5-14 prefer charges against any employee in the classified 5-15 service for violation of any civil service rule or 5-16 regulation, in which case the employee against whom such 5-17 charges are filed shall have an opportunity to answer the 5-18 charges in writing within ten days after written notice 5-19 thereof and to file with the secretary affidavits in 5-20 support of such answer. Thereafter, the proceeding shall 5-21 be the same as in cases where an employee has been 5-22 suspended, demoted, or discharged by an appointing 5-23 authority in accordance with the provisions of this part." SECTION 7. 5-24 Said Act is further amended by striking in its entirety 5-25 subsection (1) of Part 19A and inserting in lieu thereof a 5-26 new subsection (1) to read as follows: 5-27 "(1) An employee in the classified service is entitled to 5-28 request a hearing before a hearing officer when the 5-29 employee has been the subject of disciplinary action 5-30 resulting in the employee's suspension, demotion, or 5-31 discharge. The issues that may be heard and determined by 5-32 the hearing officer are: 5-33 (A) Whether the employee is guilty of the charges that 5-34 are the basis for the disciplinary action; and 5-35 (B) Whether the disciplinary action imposed by an 5-36 appointing authority is appropriate." SECTION 8. 5-37 Said Act is further amended by striking in their entirety 5-38 subsections (2) and (3) of Part 19B and inserting in lieu 5-39 thereof new subsections (2) and (3) to read as follows: -5- (Index) LC 10 1730 6- 1 "(2) Contents of request. The request for hearing shall 6- 2 contain a statement describing what is being appealed and 6- 3 the request shall be on a form provided by the secretary. 6- 4 (3) Referral to hearing officer. Within five working days 6- 5 after receipt of the request for hearing, the secretary 6- 6 will refer the request for hearing to a hearing officer 6- 7 who will determine if the case is appealable and properly 6- 8 filed. If the request for hearing has been properly 6- 9 filed, the hearing officer will notify the employee of the 6-10 date, time, and place of the appeal hearing which shall be 6-11 no later than 15 working days after receipt of the request 6-12 for hearing by the secretary, except that for good cause 6-13 the hearing officer may continue a hearing for up to an 6-14 additional 30 days. The hearing officer will also notify 6-15 the appointing authority and his or her attorney of the 6-16 date, time, and place of the appeal hearing. The hearing 6-17 will be conducted in accordance with the procedures set 6-18 forth in Part 19C of this Act." SECTION 9. 6-19 Said Act is further amended by striking Part 19C in its 6-20 entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Part 19C to 6-21 read as follows: "Part 19C. HEARINGS. 6-22 (1) Conduct of hearings. Hearings shall be conducted 6-23 before a hearing officer who shall carry out the hearing 6-24 and all prehearing and posthearing procedures in 6-25 accordance with this part. The hearing officer shall: 6-26 (a) Administer oaths and affirmations; 6-27 (b) Regulate the course of the hearing; 6-28 (c) Set the time and place for any prehearing 6-29 conferences and continued hearings; 6-30 (d) Fix the time for filing written arguments; 6-31 (e) Dispose of any motions made by the parties; 6-32 (f) Provide, where he or she deems appropriate under the 6-33 provisions of subsection (3) of this part, the taking of 6-34 testimony by deposition, interrogatories, or other 6-35 written statements; -6- (Index) LC 10 1730 7- 1 (g) Reprimand or exclude from the hearing any person for 7- 2 any indecorous or improper conduct committed in his or 7- 3 her presence; 7- 4 (h) Make informal disposition of any case by 7- 5 stipulation, agreed settlement, consent order, or 7- 6 default, if appropriate and not otherwise precluded by 7- 7 law; 7- 8 (i) Require the attendance of witnesses. Employees of 7- 9 the Bibb County Sheriff's Department appearing as 7-10 witnesses shall be released from their duty without loss 7-11 of pay or time and without effect on their service 7-12 rating. An employee who is so designated as a witness 7-13 by either the appointing authority or the employee who 7-14 sought the hearing may be disciplined for failure to 7-15 appear at the hearing. No person shall directly or 7-16 indirectly use or threaten to use any official authority 7-17 or other influence which would tend to discourage a 7-18 person from testifying; and 7-19 (j) Arrange a prehearing conference for the purpose of 7-20 reviewing the matter being appealed and establishing 7-21 stipulations and agreements to expedite the hearing. 7-22 (2) Hearings procedure. In the hearing of a matter, 7-23 proceedings shall be informal but orderly. The following 7-24 procedures shall prevail: 7-25 (a) The hearing officer shall open the hearing by 7-26 explaining the procedure to be followed in the hearing. 7-27 At the direction of the hearing officer, any or all 7-28 witnesses may be sequestered; 7-29 (b) The hearing officer shall read or cause to be read 7-30 the charges and specifications as contained in the 7-31 employee request for hearing form; 7-32 (c) The stipulations as to any facts not in dispute 7-33 shall be entered into the record; 7-34 (d) Each party shall be given the opportunity to make a 7-35 brief opening statement identifying the issues and 7-36 stating what is to be proven; 7-37 (e) All witnesses shall testify under oath or 7-38 affirmation; 7-39 (f) Each party may conduct such examination of the 7-40 witnesses as shall be required for a full and true 7-41 disclosure of the facts. This includes the right to -7- (Index) LC 10 1730 8- 1 cross-examine witnesses adverse to any party's position. 8- 2 In addition, the hearing officer may examine the 8- 3 witnesses; 8- 4 (g) Official notice may be taken of facts generally 8- 5 recognized by the public. In addition, official notice 8- 6 may be taken of technical facts within any specialized 8- 7 knowledge of the hearing officer. Parties shall be 8- 8 notified either before or during the hearing of the 8- 9 material officially noted, and they shall be afforded an 8-10 opportunity to contest the material so noticed; 8-11 (h) The board shall provide at its expense a certified 8-12 court reporter who will take down the testimony at the 8-13 hearing. In the event that the hearing officer requests 8-14 that the hearing be transcribed, such transcription will 8-15 be at the expense of the board. In the event that 8-16 either of the parties request that the hearing be 8-17 transcribed, such transcription cost shall be at the 8-18 expense of the party so requesting the transcript; 8-19 (i) An employee may represent himself or herself at the 8-20 hearing or he or she may retain the services of an 8-21 attorney to represent the employee at the hearing. In 8-22 the event that the employee does retain the services of 8-23 an attorney to represent him or her, the board will 8-24 reimburse the employee for said employee's attorney's 8-25 fees and expenses in an amount not greater than $500.00; 8-26 (j) Before closing the hearing, the hearing officer 8-27 shall allow both parties, or their respective attorneys, 8-28 the opportunity to make brief oral or written closing 8-29 arguments; 8-30 (k) The hearing officer shall decide the case and shall, 8-31 within 15 working days from receipt of the transcript of 8-32 the hearing, issue a written decision with findings of 8-33 fact and reasons for his or her decision; provided, 8-34 however, that for good cause, the hearing officer may 8-35 extend the time for rendering a decision for an 8-36 additional 15 working days. The hearing officer's 8-37 decision shall be immediately transmitted to all parties 8-38 and their counsel; and 8-39 (l) The hearing shall be open to the public as required 8-40 by law. However, the hearing may be closed at the 8-41 request of the employee. Likewise, any documentary and 8-42 other evidence shall be available for public inspection 8-43 as required by law. -8- (Index) LC 10 1730 9- 1 (3) Evidentiary rules for hearings. With respect to all 9- 2 hearings before the hearing officer, the following rules 9- 3 regarding evidence shall govern: 9- 4 (a) Formal, legal rules of evidence shall not be 9- 5 strictly applied. Evidence may be admitted if it is of a 9- 6 type commonly relied upon by reasonably prudent persons 9- 7 in the conduct of their affairs. The hearing officer 9- 8 shall follow the Georgia Rules of Evidence regarding 9- 9 privileges recognized by state law; 9-10 (b) Irrelevant, immaterial, or unduly repetitious 9-11 evidence may be excluded. Objections to evidentiary 9-12 offers shall be made and ruled upon by the hearing 9-13 officer; 9-14 (c) When a hearing will be expedited and the interest of 9-15 the parties will not be prejudiced thereby, any part of 9-16 the evidence may be received in written form, including 9-17 but not limited to the use of depositions, 9-18 interrogatories, affidavits, or written statements; 9-19 (d) The burden of proof shall be on the person 9-20 requesting the hearing. That person shall have the right 9-21 to open and conclude; 9-22 (e) Documentary evidence may be received in the form of 9-23 copies. However, upon request and at the discretion of 9-24 the hearing officer, parties shall be given the 9-25 opportunity to compare the copy with the original 9-26 document; and 9-27 (f) The hearing officer's decision shall be supported by 9-28 substantial evidence. Substantial evidence is that 9-29 degree of relevant evidence that a reasonable mind, 9-30 considering the record as a whole, might accept as 9-31 adequate to support a conclusion that the matter 9-32 asserted is true." SECTION 10. 9-33 Said Act is further amended by adding between Part 19C and 9-34 Part 20 a new Part 19D to read as follows: "Part 19D. 9-35 APPOINTMENT AND COMPENSATION OF HEARING OFFICERS. 9-36 The board, in consultation with the secretary, shall 9-37 select an independent, impartial person who has been a 9-38 member of the State Bar of Georgia for at least ten years -9- (Index) LC 10 1730 10- 1 to serve as hearing officer in matters for which a hearing 10- 2 is allowed under Part 19A of this Act." SECTION 11. 10- 3 Said Act is further amended by striking Part 20 in its 10- 4 entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Part 20 to read 10- 5 as follows: "Part 20. 10- 6 APPEAL OF THE DECISIONS OF THE HEARING OFFICER. 10- 7 Either party may appeal the hearing officer's decision by 10- 8 filing with the secretary a request for review that 10- 9 specifically enumerates the errors committed by the 10-10 hearing officer in his or her findings or conclusions. 10-11 Such request for review must be filed within ten days of 10-12 the appealing party's receipt of the hearing officer's 10-13 decision. Within three business days of his or her 10-14 receipt of the request for review, the secretary shall 10-15 transmit a copy of the request for review to the other 10-16 party and shall transmit the request for review and the 10-17 record of proceedings to the chairperson of the board. 10-18 Within seven business days after the transmission of the 10-19 record to the chairperson of the board, the parties shall 10-20 file any written arguments they desire to make with the 10-21 secretary. The secretary shall promptly transmit such 10-22 written arguments to the chairperson of the board. The 10-23 board will base its review on the record alone and will 10-24 not receive any additional evidence. The board may 10-25 affirm, reverse, or modify the decision of the hearing 10-26 officer. The board will render its decision on the 10-27 request for review within 20 business days of the filing 10-28 of the request for review. Either party may seek review 10-29 of the board's decision by a petition for certiorari to 10-30 the Superior Court of Bibb County." SECTION 12. 10-31 All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are 10-32 repealed. -10- (Index)

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