The State Worker

Legislation would speed up clock for disciplining California state workers

State departments would have considerably less time to discipline California state workers under the terms of a bill now making its way through the Legislature.

Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer’s measure would give authorities one year to investigate and take action against employees suspected of workplace misdeeds. Current law allows up to three years.

The Los Angeles Democrat’s Assembly Bill 1783 doesn’t change that statute of limitations for cases of suspected fraud, embezzlement, or falsifying records.

Unions, including SEIU Local 1000, have long complained that employers drag out investigations that should be more quickly resolved, sometimes to punish employees who fall into management’s disfavor but do nothing wrong.

Jones-Sawyer has said that it’s in the state’s interest to speed up the process. Investigations degrade the longer they go on, disrupt the workplace and create unnecessary costs when employees are placed on extended administrative leave or receive back pay for time off during an inquiry.

Labor groups periodically sponsor bills that would shrink the state’s window to discipline employees. The Sawyer-Jones measure mirrors part of a wide-ranging “Public Employees Bill of Rights Act” that Assemblyman Roger Dickinson introduced in 2012. That measure died in committee.