July 11, 2020
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Bill Text: HB 0771
HB 0771 2004
1 A bill to be entitled
2          An act relating to Columbia County; providing for career
3    service for members of the Columbia County Sheriff's
4    Office; providing for application of the act, career
5    status of members, and administration; providing for a
6    procedure with respect to complaints against members;
7    providing for appeals; providing for certain protections
8    during the transition of a new Sheriff; providing for a
9    Career Service Appeal Board; providing for status as
10    career members; prohibiting certain actions to circumvent
11    the act; providing for exclusions; providing severability;
12    providing an effective date.
14          Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
16          Section 1. Members of the Columbia County Sheriff's
17    Office; applicability of the act; career status of the members;
18    administration.--
19          (1) APPLICABILITY.--
20          (a) The provisions of this act shall apply to all full-
21    time certified and noncertified persons in the employ of the
22    Columbia County Sheriff's Office except as specifically
23    described in section 6 of this act.
24          (b) As used in this act, the terms "member," "employee,"
25    "employ," and "employment" shall refer to all persons, whether
26    employed or appointed, to whom the act applies. It is not,
27    however, the intent of this act to grant any rights not
28    specifically stated in this act beyond the provisions of this
29    act to persons in the employ of the Columbia County Sheriff's
30    Office who do not otherwise have those rights pursuant to law.
32          (a) After a member of the Columbia County Sheriff's Office
33    to whom the provisions of this act apply has served in such
34    employment for a period of 1 calendar year and successfully
35    completed a probationary training program, such employee shall
36    have attained career status with the Columbia County Sheriff's
37    Office, provided that, if an employee is terminated and rehired
38    at a later date, said employee shall be required to complete 1
39    calendar year of service from the date of rehire before being
40    granted the right of appeal provided in section 4 of this act.
41          (b) Any employee who has achieved career status with the
42    Columbia County Sheriff's Office may only be terminated for just
43    cause, provided that prior to such action the employee shall be
44    furnished written notice of the proposed action and offered an
45    opportunity to respond to the reasons for the termination.
46    However, in situations in which delay could result in damage or
47    injury, an employee may be relieved of duty immediately and
48    provided notice thereof and reasons therefor within 24 hours.
49          (c) Just cause for initiating an internal investigation
50    that may result in termination of employment shall include
51    violation of the provisions of law or office rules or direct
52    violation of published Sheriff's Office policy.
53          (d) Just cause for initiating an internal investigation
54    shall also include, with respect to any felony or misdemeanor,
55    adjudication of guilt by a court of competent jurisdiction, a
56    plea of guilty or of nolo contendere, or adjudication of guilt
57    withheld and the accused placed on probation.
58          (e) The filing of felony or misdemeanor charges by the
59    state attorney against an employee shall constitute just cause
60    for initiating an internal investigation.
62          (a) When a newly elected or appointed Sheriff assumes
63    office, the new Sheriff shall continue the employment of all
64    currently employed career personnel unless just cause for
65    termination of employment, as provided herein, exists. However,
66    the incoming Sheriff shall have the option of maintaining the
67    current personnel assigned to the positions of Lieutenant and
68    above, Executive Assistants, Executive Office Managers, and
69    Administrative Positions of Trust.
70          (b) Positions of Trust include the Comptroller, the
71    Director of Property Management, and Special Investigators
72    assigned and involved in conducting internal inquiries or
73    internal investigations.
74          (c) If the incoming Sheriff fills the positions of
75    Lieutenant and above, Executive Assistants, Executive Office
76    Managers, and Administrative Positions of Trust with new
77    personnel, the current occupants of those position may be
78    reduced to the next lower existing rank or civilian designation
79    and transferred to another assignment within the same division
80    except that those individuals' basic salaries may not be reduced
81    but remain frozen until "cost of living" or "across the board"
82    raises would authorize an increase.
83          (d) The new rank of the individuals shall be the permanent
84    rank of the individuals for a period of 6 months and then may be
85    later changed by independent disciplinary action.
86          (e) Initial actions taken pursuant to this subsection
87    affecting the Lieutenants and above and other Executive
88    Positions of Trust and within the guidelines of section 3 shall
89    not be subject to appeal under section 4.
90          (4) ADMINISTRATION.--
91          (a) The Sheriff shall have the authority to adopt such
92    rules and regulations as are necessary for the implementation
93    and administration of this act.
94          (b) The promulgation of rules and regulations related to
95    this act by the Sheriff are at his or her sole discretion;
96    however, nothing in this act shall be construed as affecting the
97    budget-making powers of the Board of County Commissioners of
98    Columbia County.
99          Section 2. Complaints against employees; procedure.--
100          (1) A complaint receipt and processing procedure shall be
101    established in order to provide adequately for the prompt
102    receipt, investigation, and disposition of complaints against
103    members of the Columbia County Sheriff's Office. The complaint
104    procedure shall reflect the provisions in section 112.532,
105    Florida Statutes.
106          (2) After written receipt of the disposition of the
107    complaint, if an employee is dissatisfied with the decision of
108    the Sheriff regarding disciplinary action resulting in
109    termination of employment, the employee may appeal the action to
110    the Career Service Appeal Board.
111          Section 3. Disciplinary appeal procedure.--
112          (1) An appeal of disciplinary action resulting in
113    termination of employment shall result in the opportunity for a
114    hearing before a Career Service Appeal Board as specified in
115    said procedure.
116          (2) Immediately following the hearing, the board shall
117    report to the Sheriff via the Director of Human Resources or
118    other person so designated by the Sheriff.
119          Section 4. Career Service Appeal Board; creation;
120    membership; duties.--
121          (1) FUNCTION OF BOARD.--
122          (a) An ad hoc Career Service Appeal Board shall be
123    appointed as provided herein for the purpose of hearing appeals
124    from career employees brought under the provisions of this act
125    or the Sheriff's Office rules or policies which result in
126    termination of employment.
127          (b) A board may also, upon the request of the Sheriff,
128    provide assistance and advice to the Sheriff in matters
129    concerning disciplinary actions and may take any other actions
130    as authorized by the Sheriff.
131          (2) MEMBERSHIP OF BOARD.--
132          (a) When needed upon the call of the Sheriff or the filing
133    of an appeal of a termination of employment, an ad hoc Career
134    Service Appeal Board shall be appointed. The membership of each
135    such board shall consist of two members selected by the Sheriff
136    from among the certified law enforcement or correctional
137    officers from within the Sheriff's Office who are assigned to
138    the same division as the appealing member; two members selected
139    by the employee filing the appeal from among the certified law
140    enforcement or correctional officers within the Sheriff's Office
141    who are members of the same division as the appealing member;
142    and one member, who may be any qualified member currently
143    employed by the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, selected by
144    the other members of the board, who shall serve as chairperson.
145          (b) If a noncertified member requests an appeal, the two
146    members selected by the noncertified member must be certified
147    members but may be selected from any division of the Sheriff's
148    Office.
149          (c) Upon receipt of a request to appoint a Career Service
150    Appeal Board, the Sheriff shall instruct Human Resources to
151    compile a list of members who meet the requirements to serve on
152    the board. This list shall be hand delivered to the Sheriff, who
153    shall ensure that the list is delivered to the appealing member.
154          (d) The appealing member shall have 7 calendar days from
155    the date that the request for a hearing was delivered directly
156    to the Sheriff, or to one of the Administrative Assistants in
157    the Sheriff's office, to select two qualified members willing to
158    serve as members of the board and deliver their names directly
159    to Human Resources. If, within the 7-day period, the appealing
160    member fails to submit the names of two qualified members as
161    outlined in this paragraph and paragraphs (a) and (b) who have
162    been contacted and are willing to serve, the option to be heard
163    by a Career Service Appeal Board is procedurally waived and
164    ceases to exist.
165          (e) The Sheriff shall, within this same 7-day period,
166    deliver to Human Resources the names of his or her two
167    selections to serve as members of the board. If, within the 7-
168    day period, the Sheriff fails to submit the names of two
169    qualified members as outlined in this paragraph and paragraph
170    (a), the action against the employee is procedurally waived and
171    ceases to exist.
172          (f) The four members shall then have 5 calendar days to
173    select the fifth member from the list of remaining qualified
174    members.
175          (g) If an impartial chairperson cannot be agreed upon
176    within 5 calendar days after the first four members are
177    selected, the Sheriff shall deliver a list of current remaining
178    qualified Sheriff's Office members to a judge from within the
179    Third Circuit of the state, who shall, within 5 days, appoint a
180    chairperson from the list.
181          (h) The Sheriff may, on his or her own initiative, appoint
182    a Career Service Appeal Board for the purpose of receiving,
183    considering, and making a recommendation on matters related to
184    the formation or streamlining of rules related to this act or to
185    consider any other matter deemed appropriate by the Sheriff,
186    excluding disciplinary termination of employment. If the issue
187    to be under consideration involves a specific member of the
188    Sheriff’s Office and may result in some disciplinary
189    recommendation by the board, the Sheriff shall notify the
190    individual and offer the opportunity for the individual to
191    provide two members to the board to consider the specific
192    question at issue. If no specific member is involved, the
193    Sheriff shall appoint two members from the Civil Division and
194    two members from the Criminal Division, and the Captain of the
195    Administrative Division shall serve as the chairperson. A board
196    appointed by initiative may only make recommendations.
198    EXCLUSIONS.--
199          (a) Standardized dates and times of meetings shall be
200    established by rule and shall occur during normal administrative
201    office hours.
202          (b) Members selected to serve on the board shall serve
203    without additional compensation for meetings occurring during
204    their normal work hours. For nonwork hours, compensatory time at
205    the rate of 150 percent for the actual hours in session shall be
206    credited to the member.
207          (c) Once selected to the board, the members thereof shall
208    serve until final action is taken with respect to the purpose
209    for which the board was selected, at which time the board shall
210    be dissolved.
211          (d) A new Career Service Appeal Board shall be selected
212    for each separate occurrence; however, multiple parties filing
213    appeals on the same incident may request to be heard by a single
214    board.
215          (e)1. A person may not serve as a member of an ad hoc
216    Career Service Appeal Board who:
217          a. Is a member of a different division than the grieving
218    member except as provided in paragraph (2)(b).
219          b. Was involved in the original incident that resulted in
220    the disciplinary process that is the subject of the appeal.
221          c. Is related to the appellant.
222          d. Is currently under investigation or suspension.
223          e. Has any ongoing litigation against the Columbia County
224    Sheriff's Office.
225          f. Is on probation or have received discipline within the
226    past year.
227          2. Notwithstanding subparagraph 1., the fifth member may
228    be from any division, and certified or noncertified, if he or
229    she meets the other requirements.
231          (a) An appeal of an action specified in section 3 shall be
232    made to the Sheriff in writing and must be received by the
233    Sheriff no later than 5 calendar days after the employee is
234    notified of the action on which the appeal is based.
235          (b) When a Career Service Appeal Board has been selected
236    for purposes of hearing the appeal, the Sheriff shall publish
237    and furnish notice to the appealing person of the date,
238    location, and time of the hearing before the Career Service
239    Appeal Board. In any case, the date of the hearing shall be
240    within 10 calendar days, excluding weekends and holidays, after
241    notification of the selection of the fifth member.
242          (c) The date of the hearing may be extended by mutual
243    agreement of the parties.
244          (d) During the hearing, the employee filing the appeal
245    shall have the right to be heard, to be represented by a person
246    of his or her choice, and to present any relevant evidence on
247    his or her behalf, and during the hearing the technical rules of
248    evidence shall not apply.
249          (e) The board shall, in the conduct of a hearing, have the
250    power to administer oaths, interview witnesses, and review
251    books, records, accounts, papers, documents, prior statements,
252    and investigative files related to the issue that are in the
253    possession of or have been delivered to Human Resources a
254    minimum of 24 hours prior to the beginning of the hearing. In
255    any case, the board shall restrict its considerations and
256    deliberations to the evidence presented at the hearing.
257          (f) This board is not governed by the Administrative
258    Procedure Act, as codified in chapter 120, Florida Statutes.
260          (a) The board shall, by majority vote, dispose of the
261    appeal for which it was appointed by making a determination of
262    just cause and issuing a written decision. Such decision shall
263    be based upon the simple determination of a preponderance of
264    evidence (51 percent). In the instance of an appeal to the board
265    concerning a termination, the affirmative vote of four members
266    of the board shall be required to overturn the Sheriff's
267    decision to terminate. All members of the board must be present
268    to conduct any official business of the board.
269          (b) If the board does not sustain the action by the
270    Sheriff, back pay and benefits shall be reinstated. No board
271    shall have the authority to impose on any employee any penalty
272    that is different than that which formed the basis of the
273    appeal. If the board sustains the action of the Sheriff, it may
274    also make a recommendation to the Sheriff to reconsider
275    mitigating circumstances and reconsider the termination-of-
276    employment action. The Sheriff shall review the determination of
277    the board and consider its recommendation prior to imposition of
278    final action.
279          (c) The decision of the board, which is to be arrived at
280    by paper ballot, shall be forwarded to the Sheriff.
281          (d) This final decision of the board shall be binding on
282    the employee and the Sheriff.
283          (e) The Sheriff shall prepare, or cause to be prepared, an
284    order and publish the final disposition of the appeal. The final
285    disposition shall be binding on the employee and becomes a
286    public record at that time.
287          (f) The board hearing shall be open to the public,
288    recorded, and preserved for the public record. After all
289    materials are received and all witnesses heard, the chairperson
290    shall declare the hearing completed for the purpose of beginning
291    deliberations.
292          (g) Official written minutes of the deliberations shall be
293    kept by a clerical person and made part of the official record
294    of the board.
295          (h) The chairperson of the board shall have the authority
296    to receive and consider written prehearing motions that shall be
297    presented to the full board at the hearing. He or she shall
298    preside over the hearing, enforce the decorum of the hearing,
299    receive requests for breaks, convene the deliberations, and
300    cause the removal of anyone attempting to disrupt any of the
301    proceedings.
302          Section 5. Upon enactment.--
303          (1) INCLUDED INDIVIDUALS.--All full-time certified and
304    noncertified persons in the employ of the Columbia County
305    Sheriff's Office on the effective date of this act who have
306    served for a period of 1 calendar year or more and successfully
307    completed their probationary period as of such effective date of
308    the act shall be career employees subject to the provisions of
309    this act. All other full-time employees shall become career
310    employees subject to the provisions of this act upon reaching
311    their 1-calendar-year service anniversary date and successfully
312    completing their probationary period.
313          (2) CIRCUMVENTION.--
314          (a) Promotions or demotions of members or creation of rank
315    to circumvent the intent of this act shall be held as a valid
316    reason to request the Sheriff to appoint a Career Service
317    Appeals Board to consider the issue in question.
318          (b) No certified or noncertified full-time employee of the
319    Columbia County Sheriff's Office shall be discharged or
320    discriminated against in regard to his or her employment or
321    appointment, or threatened with any such treatment, by reason of
322    his or her exercise of the rights granted by this act.
323          Section 6. Exclusions.--
324          (1) The career status provisions of this act shall not
325    apply to the Sheriff; to Special Deputy Sheriffs appointed
326    pursuant to section 30.09(4), Florida Statutes; to members
327    employed pursuant to a grant whose continued existence or
328    funding is subject to the expiration or withdrawal of the grant;
329    to nondisciplinary termination of employment arising out of a
330    reduction of force, layoff, or partial or total abolition or
331    cessation of a program, service, operation, or department at the
332    discretion of the Sheriff; to members of the Sheriff's Reserve
333    Unit; or to individuals appointed as part-time Deputy Sheriffs,
334    as defined by the Criminal Justice Standards and Training
335    Commission, unless any such person is also employed full-time by
336    the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.
337          (2) This act shall not apply to an otherwise covered
338    person who claims that a termination of employment was for
339    lawful off-duty political activity. Claims of this nature are
340    already covered under chapter 30, Florida Statutes.
341          (3) This act shall not apply to an otherwise covered
342    person who claims that a termination of employment was for
343    discriminatory purposes. Claims of this nature are already
344    covered under state and federal statutes.
345          Section 7. Severability.--The provisions of this act shall
346    be severable and, if any of the provisions shall be
347    unconstitutional, the decision of the court shall not affect the
348    validity of the remaining provisions. It is hereby declared to
349    be the intent of the Legislature that this act would have been
350    adopted had such unconstitutional provision not been included
351    therein.
352          Section 8. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.
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