Court Will Hear Case on Firings

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Washington--The U.S. Supreme Court agreed last week to decide whether school employees and other civil servants who are fired are entitled to pre-termination hearings even though state laws allow them to appeal their firings after they lose their jobs.

The Justices' decision to review the issue stems from the November 1980 firing of a Cleveland school security guard for allegedly lying on an employment application and the August 1977 dismissal of a Parma, Ohio, school-bus mechanic for failure to pass an eye examination.

Administrative hearing officers and federal district courts upheld the dismissals of both employees, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit vacated those rulings, holding that the employees could go back to the lower courts and argue that they were denied due process of law because they were not allowed to challenge their dismissals in administrative hearings before the dismissals went into effect.

Ohio and seven other states have filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the Cleveland and Parma school boards in the cases, Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill and Parma Board of Education v. Donnelly (Case Nos. 83-1362 and 83-1363). The Cleveland security guard who lost his job filed a separate lawsuit, Loudermill v. Cleveland Board of Education (No. 83-6392), which the Court also agreed to hear. The guard claims that he was denied due process because his post-termination hearing took place nine months after he was fired.

Earlier this year the Court accepted a similar case, Scherer v. Davis (No. 83-490), involving Florida's civil-service laws. The Justices could consolidate all four cases for oral argument when the Court begins its next session in October.--tm

Vol. 03, Issue 36

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