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Matthews v. City of Mobile

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

December 5, 2014

Cassandra Matthews
v.
City of Mobile

          Appeal from Mobile Circuit Court. (CV-11-1196).

         For Appellant: Carroll J. Ogden, Mobile.

         For Appellee: Wanda B. Rahman, Asst. City Atty., City of Mobile Police Department.

         THOMPSON, Presiding Judge. Pittman, Thomas, Moore, and Donaldson, JJ., concur.

          OPINION

Page 548

          THOMPSON, Presiding Judge.

         On January 4, 2011, the City of Mobile (" the City" ) notified Cassandra Matthews, one of its employees, of its intent to suspend her without pay and that a predisciplinary hearing was scheduled for January 12, 2011. Following the hearing, the City, on January 25, 2011, notified Matthews that it would suspend her without pay for a period of 24 hours, effective February 21, 2011. Act No. 470, Local Acts of 1939 (" the Act" ), as amended, governs the civil-service system for Mobile County and the City.[1] The Act has been amended several times, and the most recent amendment pertaining to some of the provisions applicable to this case occurred in Act No. 2004-105, Ala. Acts 2004.

          The Act, as amended, provides the method by which a suspended employee may challenge before the Mobile County Personnel Board (hereinafter " the Board" ) the City's decision to suspend him or her. See § XXIII of the Act, as amended by Act No. 2004-105, Ala. Acts 2004, p. 157 (" The suspended employee shall have the right to file an appeal of the suspension for a hearing before the board." ). The Rules and Regulations of the Personnel Board for Mobile County (hereinafter " the Rules and Regulations" ), formulated pursuant to the Act, set forth a more specific explanation of an employee's right to appeal:

" An employee desiring to appeal from a dismissal, suspension or demotion shall, within ten days after notice thereof, file with the Director [of the Board] a written answer or explanation of the charges. Such answer shall contain (1) an admission or denial of guilt and, (2) reasons why the action should not become effective. Upon receipt of the appeal, the Director shall forward a copy thereof to the Appointing Authority concerned. The Director shall prepare and have available simplified forms for use by an employee in perfecting an appeal to the Personnel Board from such disciplinary action as aforesaid. The Personnel Department shall, where necessary, assist the employee to perfect such appeal."

         Rule 14.4, Rules and Regulations.[2]

         The record indicates that Matthews was served with notice of the Board's decision to suspend her for 24 hours without pay on February 15, 2011, and that she timely filed a written form notice of appeal of the City's suspension decision with the Board's personnel director on that same date.

         While Matthews's appeal of her 24-hour suspension was pending before the Board, on April 18, 2011, Matthews received a

Page 549

predisciplinary-hearing notice from the City that informed her of the City's intent to terminate her employment; that notice also specified that a hearing was scheduled for May 2, 2011. On May 2, 2011, the City terminated Matthews's employment, and Matthews ...


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