Sunday, March 24, 2013

Appeals Court, once again, upholds Commission decision

Following a familiar pattern, a civil service employee upset with a ruling by the Civil Service Commission – in this case, the denial of his appeal of a one-year suspension - struck out with his second appeal of the decision. The decision by the Massachusetts Appeals Court in Schiavone v. City of Medford is not remarkable except as another reminder that employees who lose at the Commission should think long and hard before appealing the decision.

In this case, the City of Medford suspended the employee based on a finding that he violated the City's sexual harassment policy. The Appeals Court agreed with the Superior Court (which is the first level of appellate review for the Commission) that the decision to uphold the year-long suspension was "legally tenable" based on the substantial evidence. (The original decision and findings were made by a magistrate judge. The Commission reviewed and accepted the magistrate's findings.)

I always tell my clients who have received an unfavorable Civil Service Commission decision and want to appeal that the standard of review typically makes the chances of success very unlikely. In the rare circumstance that an appeal challenges the legal basis for the Commission's decision, the standard is more favorable because it requires a fresh look at the legal reasoning. This is what happened in the Kaveleski decision, which clarified the standard for the Commission to apply to appeals of psychological bypasses.  A court, however, does not take a fresh look at factual findings by the Commission.  This is important to remember when considering whether to appeal an unfavorable decision by the Civil Service Commission.

No comments:

Post a Comment