If you were wrongfully terminated from a civil service position within your local government, you might be eligible to receive some compensation for your trouble. For example, say you are placed on suspension and are on track to be terminated. However, you later appeal that decision, and your suspension and termination are lifted. As a result, you may be allowed to reclaim back pay and exceptional pay for the time you were prohibited from working. The following case out of Plaquemines parish discusses the issues of back pay and exceptional pay and how they apply within a court proceeding.
Loukisha A. Daisy applied for the position of Chief Internal Auditor at the Plaquemines Parish Government (PPG). Daisy was accepted on the condition that she complete all required courses and possess a CPA within one year of her hire date. Daisy worked for PPG for one year but did not obtain her CPA certification within that timeline. PPG moved to terminate her employment for this failure as well as two other non-critical mistakes on her part. Daisy was suspended until she had a predetermination hearing. After the suspension, Daisy was terminated.
Daisy appealed her termination to the Plaquemines Parish Civil Service Commission. The Commission reinstated her to her previous position but failed to award all of the back pay she sought in her initial appeal. Therefore, she appealed the Commission’s decision to the Louisiana Fourth Circuit court of appeals.
Back Pay for the Rescheduling Period:
Usually, if a wrongfully terminated civil servant reschedules their termination hearing without the consent of the government, that period between the original hearing date and the rescheduled date is exempt from the award of back pay. Willis v. Dept. of Health & Human Resources, 434 So.2d 1164 (La. App. 1st Cir. 1983)
However, in the Daisy case, the fact that Daisy and the government agreed to reschedule the hearing was a critical issue to the Fourth Circuit court of appeals. The agreement was construed as consent on the part of the government to extend the timeline, and as such, the appeals court required them to pay the back pay for the rescheduling period.
Exceptional pay is pay applied for work and qualifications that are out of the ordinary for a given position; it is then approved or denied based on the discretion of the local parish government. Daisy had applied for exceptional pay and was approved, but she never received the payments before the termination proceedings. Daisy asked for exceptional pay in her appeal to the Commission, which was denied.
Under the Civil Service Rules, “[r]egular employees in the classified service shall have the right to appeal to the Commission from suspension, fine, dismissal, layoff, reduction in pay, or demotion to test the reasonableness of such action.” The appeals court construed this rule to include an appeal on the award of exceptional pay. The commission’s findings were reversed and exceptional pay was included in her back pay calculation after the appeal.
If your local Parish government wrongfully terminates you from your civil service position, do not lose all hope. A skilled legal team could get your job back and fight for the money you would have otherwise earned in the period of your wrongful termination.
Other Sources: LOUKISHA A. DAISY VERSUS PLAQUEMINES PARISH GOVERNMENT
By Berniard Law Firm Writer: Ethan W. Seitz
Other Berniard Law Firm Article on Wrongful Termination: Terminated Plaquemines Parish Employee Denied Attorney’s Fees After Successful Appeal for Job Reinstatement