California Skelly Process

Under California law, an individual employed in the public sector who has attained the status of "permanent employee" has "a property interest in the continuation of his or her employment which is protected by due process." (Skelly v. State Personnel Bd. (1975) 15 Cal.3d 194 at pp. 206-207.) The California Supreme Court has applied this balancing test to determine what process is due a public employee facing removal from employment. Skelly, supra, 15 Cal.3d 194, held that a permanent employee with a property interest in continued employment is entitled to certain procedural safeguards before being removed from employment. While those due process safeguards do not include a full evidentiary hearing before removal, minimally they include "notice of the proposed action, the reasons therefore, a copy of the charges and materials upon which the action is based, and the right to respond, either orally or in writing, to the authority initially imposing discipline." (Id. at p. 215.) In Civil Service Assn. v. City & County of San Francisco (1978) 22 Cal.3d 552, the California Supreme Court applied the same balancing test in holding that an employer need not provide Skelly-type procedures to employees before suspending them for a period of five days. The court noted "historically the state has treated suspensions of ten days or less as being somewhat minor with less procedural safeguards offered." (Id. at p. 562.) Thus, after weighing the employees' interest in continued employment against the employer's competing interest in prompt action for the maintenance of discipline, the court concluded the employees would receive due process so long as the employer afforded them Skelly-like procedures "during or within a reasonable time" after their 5-day suspensions. (Id. at p. 564.)