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Principles for Public Safety Employment

INTENDED AUDIENCE: Public Agency
CATEGORY: Employment Law, Public Agency

Regular areas of concern for public safety agencies include:

  • Hiring practices, including background investigations and pre-employment inquiries
  • The interplay between disciplinary investigations, disciplinary actions and the rights of public safety employees under the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act and the Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights Act;
  • Fitness for duty examinations;
  • Labor Code section 4850 and its interplay with the disability discrimination and disability retirement laws; and
  • Handling of public safety employees’ personnel records.

This workbook is not designed as a comprehensive legal guide on the above topics.  Rather, the workbook focuses on new issues as well as troublesome issues which arise repeatedly in the context of public safety employment and identifies options for addressing those issues.

Topics Include:

  • Hiring Practices
    • Peace Officer Background Investigations
    • Fire Personnel Background Investigations
    • Legal Restrictions on Background Investigations Imposed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act and/or the California Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act
    • Legal Restrictions on Access to Medical Information in the Hiring Process
    • Legal Restrictions on Access to Social Media Information in the Hiring Process
  • Administrative Investigations
    • Overview of the POBR and the FBOR
    • Who is Entitled to Protection Under the POBR and FBOR?
    • Unique Issues Regarding the Application of the FBOR
    • Investigations of Emergency Medical Technicians
    • Issues to Consider When Beginning an Investigation for Administrative Misconduct
    • Interrogation of the Subject Employee
    • Special Considerations When Criminal Charges are Possible
    • Privacy Restrictions on Investigations
    • The Investigation Report
    • Time Limitations for Completion of Investigation and Notification to Public Safety Employee of Proposed Disciplinary Action
    • Public Safety Employees’ Rights to Investigation Materials
    • Remedies for POBR or FBOR Violations
  • Imposition of Discipline
    • Grounds for Discipline
    • Documents Imposing Discipline
  • Administrative Appeals
    • When is a Public Safety Employee Entitled to an Administrative Appeal under the POBR and FBOR?
    • What is the Procedural Scope of an Administrative Appeal?
  • Fitness for Duty Examinations
    • When is a Fitness for Duty Examination Allowed (or Required)
    • What Information is an Employer Entitled to Receive Following a Fitness for Duty Examination?
    • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996
    • What Information Can the Employer Give a Doctor?
    • Can the Doctor Have an Employee’s Prior Medical Records?
    • What Happens if a Public Safety Employee is Found Not Fit for Duty?
  • Labor Code Section 4850 and Disability Retirement
    • Overview of Labor Code Section 4850 Benefits
    • Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Off-Duty Acts
    • Separation from Service for Disability is Prohibited if the Employee Qualifies for a Disability Retirement
    • Retirement in Lieu of Termination and CCW Permits
    • Applying for a Disability Retirement for a Public Safety Employee
    • When A Disabled Employee Qualifies for a Disability Retirement and a Service Retirement
    • Advanced Disability Payments
    • Steps to Limit Payment of 4850 Benefits
  • Personnel Files
    • Recordkeeping Requirements for Public Safety Employees’ Personnel Records
    • Disclosure of Public Safety Employees’ Personnel Files
    • Special Considerations for Peace Officer Personnel Files

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