The Board of Supervisors will examine the Civil Service Commission’s hearing process to ensure the fair handling of Los Angeles County employee disciplinary matters and allegations about discrimination.
Acting on a motion by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl, the Board called for evaluating the selection, qualifications, training and responsibilities of Commissioners, hearing officers and department advocates. Hearing officers are tasked with considering evidence and submitting recommendations to Commissioners, while department advocates represent County departments and are responsible for proving their case.
“The Commission’s actions have a significant impact on the livelihood of individual employees, and on the County’s ability to hold employees and department management accountable for their actions,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “Therefore, it is essential that Commissioners, hearing officers and department advocates all have appropriate levels of knowledge and expertise in order to be effective.”
“We must also consider whether there is value in having hearing officers and department advocates handle cases based on their subject matter expertise, such as law enforcement, child welfare, or even medical care,” he added.
The Commission is a quasi-judicial body comprised of appointed private citizens acting as the appellate body for major disciplinary actions, discharges, suspensions in excess of five days, and discrimination complaints filed by County employees within the civil service system or applicants for County employment. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas clarified the motion for reform was not prompted by any specific case.
During the Board meeting, Supervisor Kuehl said, “In addition to wanting to really look closely at the qualifications of hearing officers and of how we decide departments are going to choose their advocates, there’s also the issue of process.”
“This is a quasi-judicial body and there are very strict rules about how appeals must be taken,” she added. “This motion… (will also be) asking a consultant to really look at the overall way that these appeals go forward.”
Under the motion, which won unanimous approval, the Board would also consider the feasibility of establishing a Civil Service Division within the Office of County Counsel.