SACRAMENTO - A California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) investigator who sought California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) legal representation after DCA, twice, tried to reject her during probation, will be reinstated and receive approximately one year in back-pay.
"This has been a very long year and a half for our CSLEA member, " said CSLEA Senior Counsel Jim Vitko. "We fought both in Superior Court and before the State Personnel Board on her behalf and all of that hard work paid off."
The case: DCA Investigator Amy Burgess entered the Golden West Academy in August of 2014, two months after her hire date. She was released from the academy in November, four days prior to graduation for admittedly committing a minor violation of academy rules. Burgess was told she could not participate in the academy's graduation but would still receive her POST Certificate which would allow her to work as a peace officer for DCA Division of Investigations.
The academy changed its mind on recommending that POST issue a certificate to Burgess and in January 2015, DCA issued Burgess her first Notice of Rejection on probation. Burgess reached out to the CSLEA Legal Division at which time Chief Counsel Kasey Clark requested a Skelly hearing on her behalf and argued successfully that Burgess' actions did not warrant the loss of her job. Burgess was subsequently returned to duty.
From January 2015 to May 2015, Burgess was assigned to administrative work as DCA refused to send her back to an academy. As a result of not having a POST Certificate, DCA issued a second rejection of probation on June 1, 2015 with an effective date of dismissal June 11, 2015.
CSLEA once again appealed the rejection, taking Burgess' fight to Superior Court and before the State Personnel Board. The Superior Court denied relief, however, on August 11, 2016, the State Personnel Board found that DCA’s refusal to investigate Burgess' questionable dismissal from the Golden West Academy, her unequal treatment by DCA, the Department’s failure to send her to another academy, and DCA’s decision to assign her only administrative duties in an effort to reject her a second time constituted bad faith. The Board ordered Burgess returned to work and awarded approximately one year of back-pay.
"I am so appreciative of the work CSLEA did on my behalf," said Burgess. "I'm sleeping good for the first time in nearly two years. I felt like the CSLEA attorneys were my voice and kept fighting for me when I was exhausted. They explained everything along the way and we had good communication."
Burgess admits, that when she was hired by DCA she was new to state service and was unaware of what CSLEA was and that she would even need legal help. "I moved my life from Sacramento to Southern California for this new job. When I, twice, received the rejection on probation, I lost everything. I had to move back home with family and change my career path."
CSLEA full membership entitles members to legal counsel throughout an investigation and subsequent appeal of disciplinary action. This is an example in which a CSLEA member utilized the legal services afforded to her and successfully won the right to return to work and back pay. CSLEA reminds Bargaining Unit 7 employees that the difference between maintaining full membership versus fair-share status is between $5 and $14 per month, based on the member’s affiliate association. The stakes are too high to ignore the virtues of full membership.