Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, May 16, 2019


Page 3


County Department Wins Dispute With County Commission

C.A. Says Civil Service Commission Improperly Ordered That Employee Receive Medical Reevaluation


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services and the County Chief Executive Office yesterday prevailed in their dispute with the Los Angeles County Civil Service Commission, with the Court of Appeal for this district declaring that the commission had no authority to order an employee be granted a medical reevaluation.

Presiding Justice Elwood Lui of Div. Two wrote the opinion. It reverses a judgment by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Amy D. Hogue.

Hogue rejected the contention of the department and the Chief Executive Office that the commission lacked jurisdiction over the matter it adjudicated, but granted the writ of mandate they sought on the ground that Civil Service Rule 9.07B authorizes an employee to ask for a reevaluation but does not mandate that the request be granted.

Wording of Rule

The rule provides, in its first sentence:

“An employee may request, or an appointing authority may, with the consent of the director of personnel, require an employee to have a medical reevaluation.”

The appellant, Linda Hoa, a county employee for nearly 30 years, sought such a reevaluation after a county doctor found her unfit to return to work based on her mental condition.

Lui disagreed with Hogue’s determination that the commission had jurisdiction, but agreed that the rule does not mandate that a reevaluation be afforded whenever requested.

Jurisdiction Limited

The jurist declared that the commission has no jurisdiction over matters not entrusted to it by the charter.

 “There is no Charter provision or Rule permitting the Commission to hear appeals related to Rule 9.07, and the Commission does not have general jurisdiction to hear appeals related to medical issues,” he wrote. “Accordingly, the Commission lacked jurisdiction over Hoa’s appeal.”

He went on to say:

“Section 35(6) of the Charter requires that the Rules provide for ‘Civil Service Commission hearings on appeals of discharges and reductions of permanent employees.’ Thus, as is evident from the plain language of the Charter, the Commission’s special and limited jurisdiction encompasses only appeals alleging discrimination—including ‘discrimination based on...handicap’ (Charter, § 35(4))—and appeals concerning discharge or reduction of permanent employees (Charter, § 35(6)).”

Interpretation of Rule

Turning to an interpretation of the rule, he said:

“Although we conclude the Commission lacked jurisdiction over Hoa’s appeal, in the interests of justice and because the purely legal issue may arise again, we address the underlying statutory interpretation issue considered by the Commission. We hold the Commission’s interpretation of Rule 9.07B cannot stand. Instead, we agree with the trial court’s interpretation of Rule 9.07B.”

The phrase “may request,” Lui declared, “does not imply an absolute right to the thing requested” but instead “indicates the requesting person has the right and discretion to make the request.”

The case is County of Los Angeles Department of Public Social Services. v. Civil Service Commission of Los Angeles County, B282614.

Neither county entity was represented by the County Counsel’s Office. Private lawyers who were brought in were Rocio Y. Garcia-Reyes, along with Monica T. Guizar and Alejandro Delgado of Weinberg, Roger & Rosenfeld for the department and for Hoa, as real party in interest, and Jeffrey M. Hausman and Larry D. Stratton of Hausman & Sosa for the commission.


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