The Skelly decision (Skelly vs. California Personnel Board) determined that a permanent public employee has a property interest in his/her job, which is protected by “due process,” entitling him/her to a hearing prior to discipline. In this context, discipline includes suspensions, non-punitive suspensions, temporary reduction in step, demotions, and dismissals. The “Skelly Process” is the mechanism for providing this required due process. The Skelly court concluded that, at a minimum, the due process afforded to these employees and safeguards must include:
- Notice of the proposed action;
- The reasons for the proposed action;
- A copy of the charges and materials upon which the action is based (material relied on); and
- The right to respond, orally and/or in writing, to the authority imposing discipline.
Section 6: Performance and Section 7: Conduct also have sample Skelly Intent and Decision Letters. The Employee & Labor Relations Division will assist you in all aspects of this process. Managers are strongly encouraged to consult with their Employee & Labor Relations representative prior to proposing disciplinary action.
Requirements (1) and (2) above are met by issuing an Intent Letter to the employee. This letter notifies the employee of the proposed action, and states the reasons for the proposed action.
Requirement (3) is met by notifying the employee, in the Skelly Intent Letter that “All written materials, reports and documents upon which this action is based are available to you for your review by contacting (NAME),” and by them providing such material upon request of the employee or their designated representative.
Requirement (4) is met by affording the employee an opportunity to present his/her side of the incident(s) before a reasonably impartial and non-involved reviewer. This reviewer must be a person with authority either to make the final decision on the proposed action or to recommend what that final decision should be. This hearing, if requested, must be held prior to issuance of the Decision Letter, and the Decision Letter should address issues raised in the hearing.