Loudermill Rights

PUBLIC EMPLOYEES RIGHT TO A RETERMINATION HEARING

In another decision announcing a Constitutional right for public employees not possessed by private employees, the Supreme Court in Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill et al. (470 U.S. 532 (1985), 470 U.S. 532); March 19, 1985, held that most public employees are entitled to a hearing before they are discharged. These are hearings prior to decisions by the Agency to suspend, demote or terminate an employee.  However, the “hearing” is not a full evidentiary hearing and need not include the opportunity to cross-examine your accusers. All that is required is:

  • Oral or written notice of the charges and time for hearing;
  • An explanation of the employee’s evidence; and
  • An opportunity to present “his side of the story.”

Further, since the issuance of the Loudermill decision, the lower courts have strictly limited the remedy for Loudermill violations. Specifically, an employee deprived of his Loudermill rights is not entitled to reinstatement if the employer can prove that there was just cause for the discharge in any case.  The hearings purpose is to give the employee an opportunity to present the reasons why the decision maker (the Agency) should not take the adverse action being contemplated.  You should prepare for this meeting by looking at the contract to determine what provisions they are citing and/or Agency policies/work rules and by learning of any mitigating factors that apply.