NPH Attorney Meghan Cooper has won a major victory for civil service employees across Massachusetts. In a case of first impression, the Appeals Court ruled that a municipality may not discipline employees for failing to testify at local appointing authority hearings that are held – as the Court found – for the benefit of the employee and not for the benefit of the City. To that end, the Court held that employees may not be ordered to testify at such hearings. This decision will greatly aid civil service employees in determining how to defend themselves through the multi-layered appeals process available to public employees.
In this particular case, Meghan represented NEPBA Local 911, the Worcester Police Patrolman’s Union. After the officer was fired by the City Manager for failing to testify at his own hearing, after an order to do so, NPH appealed, and the Civil Service Commission overturned the termination. The City then appealed to the Superior Court, and the Court ruled in favor of the Union and officer. The City then appealed, again, to the Appeals Court who likewise ruled for the officer.
Meghan’s Appeals Court victory is the latest in this string of victories for the Union, and her appellate argument involved an in-depth analysis of more than 100 years of the civil service law and its amendments, beginning with the creation of the law back in the late 1800’s right up through the present day. The Court took this opportunity to clarify for all that the appointing authority hearing is a fundamental right of due process that belongs to the employee alone, and is not for the benefit of the employer.
To read this important case, click below: