• Finley Employment Law

Notice of Adverse Action: Misuse of State Property

Updated: Oct 5


Originally Published on June 14, 2019; Revised on October 5, 2020


If you are a state civil service employee who has been served with a Notice of Adverse Action, you have the right to file an appeal with the State Personnel Board ("SPB") Appeals Division within thirty (30) calendar days after the effective date of the adverse action. An “adverse action” is a formal disciplinary measure that is taken against state civil service employees. It includes, but is not limited to, dismissals, suspensions, demotions, salary reductions, and disciplinary transfers.

The reason(s) for the adverse action can be one or more of the 24 causes for discipline set forth in California Government Code section 19572. These 24 causes for discipline include incompetency, insubordination, misuse of state property, and dishonesty, among other things. Your Notice of Adverse Action will identify why an adverse action is being taken against you (i.e., which of the 24 causes for discipline allegedly apply to you).

If you appeal your Notice of Adverse Action, you (or your attorney) will have the opportunity to argue before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) as to why the adverse action against you should be revoked and/or why the penalty should be modified. The ALJ “will review the evidence that is presented to determine whether: (1) the department proved the factual acts or omissions as alleged in the notice of adverse action; (2) if so, whether those acts or omissions constitute legal cause for discipline; and (3) whether the penalty that the department imposed is just and proper for the proven misconduct.” (Appeals Resource Guide, Prepared by the State Personnel Board Appeals Division, May 2019, at 12.)

If you have been served with a Notice of Adverse Action that identifies “misuse of state property” as one of the causes for discipline, here are some things that you should know:

No. 1: “Misuse of state property” generally implies either the theft of state property or the intentional use of state property or state time for an improper or non-state purpose that often, but not always, involves personal gain.


No. 2: “Misuse of state property” may also connote improper or incorrect use of state property, or mistreatment or abuse of state property.


No. 3: The SPB has found “misuse of state property” in the following instances: (a) when a DMV senior special investigator accessed confidential information from the DMV’s database without the necessary authorization; (b) when a DMV motor vehicle field representative (who ran a personal business) intentionally used the DMV’s computer to perform a transaction that involved a client of her personal business; and (c) when a Caltrans engineer used a Caltrans computer to manage and store personal business documents, used the state plotter to create personal business documents, and used his state telephone number as the daytime business number for his personal business activities.

If you are a state civil service employee who has been served with a Notice of Adverse Action and are contemplating filing an appeal with the SPB Appeals Division, call ((916) 612-0326) or email (contact@finleyemplaw.com) Finley Employment Law today. We serve clients throughout California, including Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, Walnut Creek, Concord, and San Ramon.

The information in this blog post is for general informational and advertising purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Instead, you should speak with a California employment attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

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