• Finley Employment Law

Notice of Adverse Action: Willful Disobedience

Updated: Aug 6, 2019


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 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 “willful disobedience” as one of the causes for discipline, here are some things that you should know:


1. “Willful disobedience” is defined as a knowing and intentional violation of a direct command or prohibition.


2. In order to show that you engaged in “willful disobedience,” your employer must prove that you were given a direct command or prohibition that you knowingly and intentionally violated.


3. The SPB has found “willful disobedience” in the following instances: (a) when a correctional lieutenant borrowed money from subordinates even though he was specifically directed not to do so; (b) when a heavy equipment mechanic failed to sit down and calm himself when directed to do so by his supervisor and then abruptly departed from and failed to return to the workplace; (c) when a hospital aide failed to attend classes that were required for his re-certification; and (d) when a motor vehicle field representative used DMV information for personal reasons in violation of her supervisor's instructions.


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, Granite Bay, and Elk Grove.


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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