Note: As of january 1, 2008, this state statute went into effect.
In 1975, the California Supreme Court determined that public employees, including firefighters, have certain due process protections on the job. In that decision (a.k.a. the Skelly case), the Court ruled that public employees are entitled to a "pre-disciplinary hearing," thereby allowing them an opportunity to respond to charges and/or request a reduction or elimination of any proposed discipline. Pursuant to Skelly, a firefighter must be given a written notice of proposed disciplinary action that includes: a statement of the nature of the proposed discipline, the effective date of the proposed discipline, the reasons for the discipline, the specific policy or rule violated and a statement advising the employee of the right to respond orally or in writing.
Beyond Skelly rights, firefighting personnel have not been granted any other administrative safeguards when subject to investigation and interrogation for alleged misconduct that may result in punitive action. Peace officers and members of a fire department’s arson-investigating unit, however, have had administrative protections available to them under current law for years. AB 220 remedies this inequity…
SPECIFICS - AB 220 extends the following specified procedural protections to public agency firefighters, paramedics and EMTs when they find themselves subject to investigation and interrogation by an employer or certifying agency for alleged misconduct in conjunction with events and circumstances involving the performance of their job-related duties:
1. Protects firefighters, EMT-Ps and EMTs against being prohibited from engaging in or being required to engage in political activity or from being prohibited from serving as a board member of a school district or local agency where they are not employed.
2. Requires the following when firefighters, EMT-Ps and EMTs are under investigation or subject to interrogation:
a. Interrogation must occur at a reasonable hour on duty and if conducted off-duty, the firefighter, EMT-P or EMT must be compensated for that time and cannot be punished for missing work due to the interrogation;
b. Prior notification of name, rank and command of the person in charge of the interrogation and the nature of the investigation must be given;
c. Interrogation must be for a reasonable time period with reasonable breaks to attend to any physical needs and must be void of offensive language or threats of punitive action or promise of reward in exchange for information;
d. Prohibits statements made under duress from being admissible in a subsequent judicial proceeding, with specified exceptions;
e. Allows interrogations to be recorded and gives the firefighter, EMT-P or EMT access to the recording, as well as a transcribed copy of the notes made by a stenographer or any reports or complaints made, except those required by law to be kept confidential. Confidential notes cannot be entered into the firefighter’s personnel file;
f. Requires the firefighter, EMT-P or EMT to be informed of his/her constitutional rights if it becomes apparent that he/she may be charged with a criminal offense;
g. Guarantees the right of the firefighter, EMT-P or EMT to have a representative present if an interrogation is likely to result in charges or punitive action;
h. Prohibits the firefighter, EMT-P or EMT from being loaned or reassigned if another member of his/her department would not normally be given the duty under similar circumstances.
3. Protects a firefighter, EMT-P or EMT from being subject to punitive action for exercising his/her rights under this Act or for any alleged misconduct if the investigation of the allegation is not completed within one year of discovery.
4. Prevents a fire chief from being removed without providing him/her with written notice, the reason or reasons for removal, and an opportunity for administrative appeal.
5. Requires an administrative appeal by the firefighter, EMT-P or EMT to be conducted in conformance with rules and procedures adopted by the local agency consistent with the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).
6. Requires the firefighter, EMT-P or EMT to read and sign any adverse comment before it is entered into his/her personnel file. If he/she refuses to sign a comment, it will be noted and they will be required to initial it.
7. Gives the firefighter, EMT-P or EMT 30 days to submit a written response to an adverse entry in his/her personnel file.
8. Prohibits the firefighter, EMT-P or EMT from being compelled to submit to a lie detector test against his/her will, as well as from being disciplined for refusing to submit to one.
9. Prohibits the firefighter, EMT-P or EMT from being required to disclose financial information unless otherwise required by law or obtained through court order.
10. Prohibits the locker/storage space of a firefighter, EMT-P or EMT from being searched, except under specified conditions.
11. Makes it unlawful to deny a firefighter, EMT-P or EMT the rights guaranteed by the bill.
12. Provides that a malicious violation of the act would subject the employer-agency to a civil penalty of up to $25,000, in addition to actual damages and reasonable attorney's fees.
13. Requires an employer to provide to, and obtain from, an employee a formal grant of immunity from criminal prosecution, in writing, before the employee may be compelled to respond to incriminating questions in an interrogation.
"AB 220 grants firefighting personnel needed safeguards against unwarranted punitive action where they can not otherwise defend themselves," said CPF President Lou Paulson. "We are appreciative that the Governor has signed this important measure into law."
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01-13-2008, 01:54 PM #1
- Join Date
- Oct 2007
Firefighter Bill of Rights (California)
01-16-2008, 12:07 PM #2
That's a great reminder of our rights as California FF's
CSFA (or as I call it) CSFLA magazine came out with an issue a few years ago outlining all of the FF centered laws in effect.IAFF
01-17-2008, 07:09 AM #3
- Join Date
- Oct 2007
This bill has taken 20 years + to get signed. If you have set through, or been an unwilling participant in a disciplinary action, or fact finding investigation, you quickly learn that you are not as untouchable as you think you are.
Several agencies have used the philosophy of "Terminate" and have the union fight for their job back. This is a 1 to 3 year process...unemployed, and thousands of dollars in LDF. This isnt about if the employee deserved it or not, it is about due process, and your protections and a fair appeal process. Not everyone has binding arbitration in their contract.
Anyways, I would discuss it with your local. Riverside City has a policy which mirrors the FFBOR, might want to get a copy.
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