I previously wrote about the “Public Employees Bill of Rights Act” (click here) which was introduced by Assemblymember Dickinson on February 14, 2012. The bill would have changed from three years to one year the statute of limitation to take disciplinary action against a state employee. While I recognized that there are legitimate public policy arguments in favor of a one-year limitations period for disciplinary action against an employee, my criticism of the bill was that the one-year limitations period ran from when the conduct actually occurred and not when it was reasonably discovered by the employer. This change therefore would have given an incentive to employees to hide misconduct.
I’m happy to report that AB 1655 has been amended to correct this flaw. The bill now states that:
No adverse action shall be valid against any state employee for any cause for discipline based on any civil service law of this state, unless notice of the adverse action is served and the investigation is completed within one year after discovery of the cause for discipline upon which the notice is based. Adverse action based on fraud, embezzlement, or the falsification of records shall be valid if notice of the adverse action is served within one year after the discovery of the fraud, embezzlement, or falsification.
At first blush, the second sentence seems redundant of the first. I guess you could read the statute as stating that although notice of adverse action must always be served within one year of discovery of the misconduct, when the misconduct involves fraud, embezzlement, or falsification, then the investigation doesn’t need to be completed within one year of discovery. However, that doesn’t really make sense since it’s very difficult to serve a notice of adverse action if you haven’t completed the investigation. Nevertheless, this amendment does correct what I considered to be a fatal flaw in the bill.
As for the rest of the bill, as a management advocate I don’t think it’s necessary. But the bill did advance out of the Assembly Committee on Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security on a 4-1 vote last week. Next stop for the bill is the Assembly Appropriations Committee.