As a California state employee, you probably feel like this boxer from time to time–beat up by politicians, the press, and the public on a regular basis.  They are looking for someone to scapegoat and state employees are an easy target. While people inside government know that there are many competent, hard working, and sometimes over-qualified state employees keeping the government going, it is the side seldom reported in the media or seen by the public.  To add insult to injury, many state employees are overworked and under-appreciated by their supervisors and managers.  And if this weren’t bad enough, some state employees are mistreated, discriminated against, and wrongfully terminated by these bad supervisors and managers.

Don’t get railroaded!

Attorney Linh T. Nguyen has been an attorney and senior executive with the State of California for 12 years.  During this time, he has served as the manager of the Equal Employment Opportunity Office covering over 10,000 employees.  As a state executive, he has overseen countless employee investigations and adverse actions.  He has also taken the lead on negotiating settlements in high profile adverse actions.  This knowledge and experience makes him uniquely qualified to represent you before state agencies.  As a former Chief Counsel, Chief Deputy Director, and Acting Director, he has seen it all and done it all in state government, from the ivory tower to the rank and file.

Not having effective representation before, during, or after a state employment action can cost you your livelihood. As a California state employee, you have rights not available to the general public and you need an attorney that understands those rights and how to fight for them.  Call today for a free, confidential, no obligation consultation.

Investigatory Interrogations, Skelly Hearings, and State Personnel Board Appeals

Managers and supervisors often move forward with adverse actions without supporting evidence, incorrect information, or without following progressive discipline. State agencies may decide to roll the dice and hope employees don’t know their rights or fail to appeal the adverse action. Even worse, adverse action is sometimes the result of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. Whatever the situation, you should consult with an employment lawyer with experience with the state. As a former attorney and executive with the State of California, Linh has insight into how management works (or doesn’t work) and how to best present a case before the State Personnel Board.  From discovery to settlement conferences and formal hearings, the Law Offices of Linh T. Nguyen can effectively present your case.

State Personnel Board (SPB) Appeals

State employees served with formal adverse actions have the right to appeal their adverse action. Generally, there are three steps to this process:

  1. Skelly Hearing
  2. Pre-Hearing and Settlement Conference
  3. Evidentiary Hearing

Skelly Hearings

A Skelly Hearing is an opportunity for the employee to convince the hiring authority not to fire him/her. It is important to understand that Skelly Hearings are not required in order to appeal an adverse action to the SPB. Skelly Hearings are completely optional for the employee. And in fact, a Skelly Hearing may do more harm than good for the employee.

In Skelly v. State Personnel Board (1975), the court ruled that the employee (Skelly) had a property interest in continued employment, and hence, could not be deprived of his job without the observance of due process. The State of California meets this due process requirement by affording employees the right to a “hearing” before a so-called Skelly Officer in person or in writing. In most state agencies, Skelly Officers are not final decision makers and can only make a recommendation to the hiring authority. After a Skelly Hearing, the hiring authority may modify, overturn, or uphold the adverse action. Nearly all adverse actions are upheld at this stage.

There are pros and cons to requesting a Skelly Hearing. In most cases, Skelly Hearings are futile and employees are only giving away their defense to the state agency and giving them additional time to prepare their case against you. It is important to consult with an attorney knowledgeable in this practice area before requesting a Skelly Hearing.

Pre-Hearing and Settlement Conference (PHSC)

State employees that have been served with adverse actions generally have 30 days from the effective date of the adverse action within which to file an appeal of their adverse action. The effective date is usually on the first page of the adverse action. The appeal must be filed in writing with the State Personnel Board (SPB). After SPB receives the appeal, it will set a date for the Pre-Hearing and Settlement Conference (PHSC). The PHSC serves two purposes. The first purpose is to attempt to help the parties settle their cases without the need for an Evidentiary Hearing. The second purpose is to set the appeal for hearing if the parties are unable to reach a settlement.

PHSC’s are held before an administrative law judge (ALJ). The ALJ presiding over the PHSC cannot serve as the ALJ for your Evidentiary Hearing unless both sides agree otherwise. However, this is rare. Ten (10) days prior to the PHSC, both sides must submit a PHSC statement that lays out your defenses, witnesses, documentary or demonstrative evidence, and evidentiary issues among other things. This is to help the ALJ understand your case and make estimates about hearing length.

At this stage, it is often helpful to have an attorney represent you to put your case together, convince the state that it may not prevail at hearing, and to negotiate a settlement.

Evidentiary Hearing

The final step in the process is the evidentiary hearing. This is a formal hearing with witnesses, evidence, and arguments presented to the ALJ. The ALJ is then tasked with making a decision on your appeal. The ALJ may recommend that the State Personnel Board sustain, overturn, or modify the adverse action. The State Personnel Board can accept the ALJ’s recommendation, modify it, or hold its own hearing.

REPRESENTATION If you believe you need an attorney, it is highly recommended that you retain the attorney as soon as you are served with an adverse action. An attorney can help you understand your options and rights, the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and can make sure your paperwork is properly completed and filed.

FEES Mr. Nguyen takes SPB Appeals on a flat fee basis. This means that you pay a known fee for representation regardless of how many hours it takes. This way, you know what it will cost. Mr. Nguyen also considers payment plans on a case-by-case basis.

AREAS SERVED Mr. Nguyen takes cases across California but focuses on the following areas:

Sacramento County

Sacramento, Elk Grove, Arden-Arcade, Citrus Heights, Gold River, Folsom, Galt, Rancho Cordova, Antelope, Carmichael,  Clay, Courtland, Elverta, Fair Oaks, Florin, Foothill Farms, Franklin, Freeport, Fruitridge, Pocket, Herald, Hood, La Riviera, Lemon Hill, Mather, McClellan Park, North Highlands, Orangevale, Parkway, Rancho Murieta, Rio Linda, Rosemont, Vineyard, Walnut Grove, Wilton, Locke,

Placer County

Roseville, Auburn, Rocklin, Lincoln, Loomis, Colfax, Newcastle, Penryn, Alta, Dutch Flat, Weimar, Sheridan, Carnelian Bay

San Joaquin County

Stockton, Lodi, Traci, Manteca, Lathrop, Ripon, Escalon, Acampo, Woodbridge, Thornton, Victor.

QUESTIONS? Please feel free to email any questions you have to