HB 1161

A bill to be entitled
2An act relating to Okeechobee County; providing for career
3service for employees of the Okeechobee County Sheriff's
4Office; providing for application of the act, permanent
5status of employees, suspension or dismissal, transition
6of career service employees, and administration; providing
7for a procedure with respect to complaints against
8employees; providing for ad hoc career service appeal
9boards and membership and responsibilities thereof;
10providing for a disciplinary procedure and for appeals;
11providing for status as permanent employees; prohibiting
12certain actions to circumvent the act; providing an
13effective date.
15Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
17     Section 1.  Employees of the Okeechobee County Sheriff's
18Office; applicability of the act; permanent status of employees;
20     (1)  APPLICABILITY.--The provisions of this act shall apply
21to all full-time sworn and civilian persons in the employ of the
22Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office. The provisions of this act
23do not apply to the sheriff, undersheriff, special deputies
24appointed pursuant to section 30.09(4), Florida Statutes,
25members of the sheriff's reserve/auxiliary units, or persons
26appointed as part-time deputy sheriffs as defined by the
27Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission, unless any
28such person is also employed full time by the Okeechobee County
29Sheriff's Office. As used in this act, the terms "employee,"
30"employ," and "employment" refer to all persons, whether
31employed or appointed, to whom the act applies. It is not,
32however, the intent of this act to grant the right of collective
33bargaining to persons in the employ of the Okeechobee County
34Sheriff's Office who do not otherwise have that right pursuant
35to law.
37     (a)1.  When an employee of the sheriff to whom the
38provisions of this act apply has served in such employment for a
39period of 1 calendar year, the employee shall have attained
40permanent status in the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office;
41however, if an employee is placed on disciplinary probation for
42a period of 6 months or more or is terminated and rehired at a
43later date, the employee shall be required to complete 1
44calendar year of service from the date of the disciplinary
45action or rehire before being granted permanent status. The term
46"career service employee" as used in this act means an employee
47who has successfully completed his or her probationary period.
48     2.  Any employee who is required to serve a probationary
49period attendant to a promotion shall retain permanent status in
50the Office of the Sheriff but may be returned to his or her
51prior rank during such probationary period without the right of
52appeal as provided in section 2. For the purpose of determining
53career service status as defined in this act, all time in the
54employment of the Office of the Sheriff while in a Criminal
55Justice Standards and Training Commission-approved academy or
56other comparable training for certification as a sworn officer
57or deputy sheriff shall not be counted or considered in any
58manner in determining whether the employee has attained 1
59calendar year of minimum service.
60     (b)  Any employee who has achieved career service status
61with the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office may only be
62suspended or dismissed for cause, provided that, prior to such
63action, the employee has been furnished written notice of the
64proposed action and has been offered an opportunity to respond
65to the reasons for the suspension or dismissal. In extraordinary
66situations, however, such as when delay could result in damage
67or injury to property or persons, an employee may be suspended
68or dismissed immediately and then be provided notice thereof and
69reasons therefor within 24 hours or as soon as is practicable if
70circumstances surrounding such extraordinary situation make
71notice within 24 hours impracticable. "Cause for suspension or
72dismissal" includes, but is not limited to, negligence,
73inefficiency or inability to perform assigned duties,
74insubordination, violation of provisions of law or office rules,
75conduct unbecoming a public employee, misconduct, alcohol abuse,
76prescription drug abuse, or illegal drug use. "Cause for
77suspension or dismissal" also includes, but is not limited to,
78adjudication of guilt by a court of competent jurisdiction, a
79plea of guilty or of nolo contendere, or a verdict of guilty
80when adjudication of guilt is withheld and the accused is placed
81on probation with respect to any felony, misdemeanor, or major
82traffic infraction charges.
84elected or appointed sheriff assumes office, the new sheriff
85shall continue the employment of all currently employed career
86service personnel unless cause for dismissal, as provided in
87this section, exists. The sheriff shall have the right to
88replace persons serving in the rank of captain or above,
89including the executive secretary, with new personnel of the
90sheriff's choosing. The sheriff shall have the right to offer
91these persons any position that the sheriff chooses or to cease
92their employment with the department. The current employees
93holding the rank of lieutenant who are career service employees
94may be reduced to the next lowest rank at the current maximum
95pay step, which rank shall be permanent unless later reduced by
96disciplinary demotion or increased through subsequent promotion.
97Their regular base salaries may be reduced or increased
98accordingly. Actions taken pursuant to this subsection affecting
99the undersheriff, colonels, majors, directors, or their
100executive staff equivalents shall not be appealable under this
101act. Dismissals or demotions pursuant to across-the-board
102actions directed by the Okeechobee County Board of
103Commissioners, resulting from county fiscal impacts, shall not
104be appealable under the provisions of section 2.
105     (4)  ADMINISTRATION.--The sheriff shall have full authority
106to adopt such rules, regulations, and procedures necessary for
107the administration and implementation of this act. However,
108nothing in this act shall be construed as affecting the budget-
109making powers of the Okeechobee County Board of Commissioners.
110     Section 2.  Career service appeal boards; creation;
111membership; duties.--
112     (1)  FUNCTION OF BOARDS.--Ad hoc career service appeal
113boards shall be appointed as provided in this section for the
114purpose of hearing appeals of career service employees arising
115from personnel actions brought under the rules, regulations, or
116policies of the Office of the Sheriff which result in dismissal,
117suspension, demotion, or reduction in pay. Lateral transfers,
118shift changes, oral or written reprimands, and suspensions of 3
119working days or fewer shall not be appealable to a career
120service appeal board. However, no more than one such suspension
121may occur within 1 calendar year without the right to appeal.
122The scope of a career service appeal board is limited to
123disciplinary proceedings and termination actions. A career
124service appeal board shall have the authority to conduct
125hearings and make findings of fact and recommendations to the
126sheriff. The sheriff shall not be bound by the findings or
127recommendations of such boards but shall consider them in making
128his or her final decision.
131     (a)  A career service appeal board shall consist of three
132members of the Office of the Sheriff. The sheriff shall select
133one member; the employee requesting the hearing shall select one
134member; and these two members shall select the third member, who
135must hold the rank of lieutenant or above, to serve as
136chairperson. Each selected member shall have the right to
137decline to serve.
138     (b)  All members of the career service appeal board shall
139be selected on the basis of fairness, objectivity, and
140impartiality. The board shall have no investigative powers and
141shall function in the capacity of a fact finder in an effort to
142arrive at a fair and equitable recommendation in all matters
143brought before it. Selected members shall have no involvement
144with the issues under consideration. Membership of the board is
145voluntary and is without remuneration. Members may not discuss
146matters to be heard before the board until the board convenes
147and then they may only discuss such matters during the
148officially convened sessions of the board.
149     (c)  The career service appeal board chairperson shall have
150the responsibility to:
151     1.  Chair all meetings using parliamentary rules of order.
152     2.  Request that the employee provide the names of any
154     3.  Schedule and provide written notification of all
155meetings to the witnesses, board members, and the employee.
156     4.  Provide copies of all charges to board members.
157     5.  Ensure compliance with hearing procedures.
159     (a)  Any career service employee may request a hearing
160before a career service appeal board for any appealable
161disciplinary action of his or her superiors that adversely
162affects his or her employment.
163     (b)  A request for a hearing shall be made in writing to
164the employee's immediate supervisor within 10 working days after
165notice of appealable disciplinary action. The request shall
166contain a brief statement of the matters to be considered by the
167board and the name of the employee selected to be a member of
168the board.
169     (c)  The immediate supervisor shall forward the hearing
170request to the sheriff and the appropriate division commander
171without delay. A career service appeal board shall be impaneled
172and a hearing date scheduled by the sheriff within 10 working
173days after receipt of the request for a hearing unless waived in
174writing by the employee.
175     (d)  The employee and his or her representative have the
176right to be present and to present any relevant evidence on the
177employee's behalf. During such hearings, the technical rules of
178evidence shall not apply. Neither the employee nor his or her
179representative may disrupt the proceedings. The qualification of
180disruptive conduct shall be at the exclusive determination of
181the chairperson of the career service appeal board.
182     (e)  The employee shall not discuss the circumstances of
183the matter being brought before the board except through the
185     (f)  All witnesses shall be notified in writing by the
186chairperson of the board, through the appropriate chain of
187command, of the date and time of the convening of the career
188service appeal board. Nonemployee witnesses may be called to
189appear before the board only at the request of the board.
190     (g)  The board shall have the power to issue subpoenas upon
191request of any party or upon its own motion.
192     (4)  CONDUCT OF HEARING.--
193     (a)  Career service appeal boards are designed to determine
194the truth while maintaining an atmosphere of fundamental
195fairness and shall not be controlled by civil or criminal rules
196of procedure.
197     (b)  Board members may receive verbal or written testimony
198concerning any matter considered relevant by the board. The
199board may review any record, including, but not limited to,
200performance evaluations and disciplinary files.
201     (c)  Employees and their representatives shall have
202opportunity to present evidence, conduct cross-examination, and
203submit rebuttal evidence.
206     (a)  Each complaint shall receive a separate finding and
207recommendation by a majority of the board. Each finding shall
208consider the seriousness of the complaint, any extenuating
209circumstances, the tenure of the employee, and the employee's
210past conduct record. The board shall submit to the sheriff its
211written findings of fact and recommendations within 5 days after
212the hearing.
213     (b)  The board may place before the sheriff any recommended
214disposition that the board believes may be of benefit to the
215Office of the Sheriff, including, but not limited to, oral or
216verbal reprimand, suspension, reduction of rank, termination of
217employment, sustention or reversal of the original decision, or
218recommendation of a more severe disposition.
219     (c)  The sheriff shall review the findings and
220recommendations of the career service appeal board and may
221either approve or disapprove them. The sheriff has the sole
222discretion to overrule the findings of the board.
223     (d)  The sheriff shall notify the employee of the final
224results of the career service appeal board and the reasons
226     (e)  In the event the employee is exonerated, the employee
227shall be reinstated without prejudice or penalty.
228     (f)  When summary discipline is imposed by any supervisor,
229the sheriff may order a career service appeal board to convene
230and review the action of the supervisor.
231     (g)  All proceedings of the board shall be retained by the
232Human Resources Department of the Office of the Sheriff.
233     (h)  All associated reports, paperwork, and personnel
234action taken as a result of the appeal shall be retained by the
235Human Resources Department of the Office of the Sheriff.
236     Section 3.  (1)  All sworn and civilian persons in the
237employ of the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office on the
238effective date of this act who have served for a period of 1
239calendar year or more as of such date shall be permanent
240employees subject to the provisions of this act. All other
241employees shall become permanent employees subject to the
242provisions of this act upon reaching their 1-calendar-year
243service anniversary date.
244     (2)  No sworn or civilian employee of the Okeechobee County
245Sheriff's Office shall be discharged; disciplined; demoted;
246denied promotion, transfer, or reassignment; or otherwise
247discriminated against in regard to his or her employment or
248appointment, or be threatened with any such treatment, by reason
249of his or her exercise of the rights granted by this act.
250     Section 4.  This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.

CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.