COALINGA - On November 19, 2019, the State Personnel Board modified a decision by Administrative Law Judge Bruce Monfross whereby reducing Coalinga State Hospital HPO Paul Alejo’s Dismissal to a three-month suspension. As a result, the Board ordered Officer Alejo back to work and he was owed more than three-months of backpay and benefits.
DSH dismissed Officer Alejo on May 3, 2019 based on allegations he was dishonest, insubordinate, discourteous, and negligent because he failed to inform his supervisors that his driver license was suspended, failed to timely attend a meeting, and failed to notify supervisors of two traffic citations (outside law enforcement contact). Officer Alejo asserted that he was unaware of the suspension until he was notified by a supervisor, and he believed he timely attended the meeting with supervision.
During a two-day hearing before Judge Monfross, CSLEA was able to prove that Officer Alejo did not actually receive prior notice of the suspension, and he did not disregard the meeting with his supervisors. As a result, Judge Monfross concluded that Officer Alejo was not dishonest, insubordinate, or discourteous. Ultimately, he sustained the dismissal on the grounds that Officer Alejo was grossly negligent in allowing his driver license to become suspended and willfully disobedient in failing to report the two traffic citations to his supervisors.
However, the State Personnel Board determined that dismissal was not the just and proper penalty in this case. After review of Judge Monfross’ factual conclusion regarding the allegations, the Board modified the discipline from a dismissal to a three-month suspension. The Board cited Officer Alejo’s 14- year work history, his emotional stress, his demonstration of remorse and recognition of his mistakes, and the Department’s failure to prove dishonesty and insubordination as the reasons to modify the discipline.