Posted: June 3, 2011 in Uncategorized
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The question that many employees that work for the City of Riverside are having is why are their vested employees and at-will employees.  Ordinarily, the Private Sector in California is an at-will state, once you go to the Public Sector, it doesn’t apply.  The standard in the Public Sector is that executive positions are usually at-will, and the rest are vested positions.  But we are finding a mix of vested and at-will employees within middle and upper management positions, and of course there are the rank and file still continue to remain vested per union contract.  Vested positions cannot be changed to at-will positions by the City council or the City Manager, it must take a vote of the  people. The city could be enthralled into a serious class action lawsuit if this is true. The question is, were mid and upper management positions which were originally vested changed to at-will without a vote of the people?  This then becomes the legal question.

Sources are asking,for example, if the position was vested before the City Manager Brad Hudson came to the city, would be illegal of him to have changed the position to at-will without a vote of the people,  Therefore the at-will position advertised would be an illegal and fraudulent offer to that employee.  This would also violate Skelly Rights.  The purpose of the Skelly rule is to allow employees an opportunity to respond to the charges and to request a reduction or elimination of the discipline. It also allows for an opportunity to check out the evidence that management has against the employee.

Therefore, this offer would be contrary to public policy. Usually a city charter can override only if it states “at-will”, but it appears that the City of Riverside Charter does  not.  If the city manager came in and declared that vested positions are now at-will, this would be illegal.  Legally, a vested position will remain a vested position, even if an employee came in and was told at-will was the position. You may have agreed to it, which would be a fraudulent offer, and if you were terminated, the position would legally return back to vested.  Remember only “you” can waive your right of being vested if you wanted to change to “at-will.”  A city manager cannot state “vested” positions are now “at-will”, or even the city council cannot change this.  If this was what you were told, a Labor Relations Attorney would be in order to sue the city.  The city cannot vote out rights given by the voters. Rank and file employees, for example, are vested, and their mid management positions vested.

If your contract is terminated, when you are hired there is an implied contract, the contract states that you are at-will, one can still sue the city council civily, because they allowed the city manger to make this illegal decision. Remember, the City Council and the Mayor are ultimately responsible since the City Manager serves at their pleasure.  Look at the history of the city for laws regards at-will and vested.  January 2007 the city became a Charter City, and this change could by some become questionable. Since City Charter process could be abused, and be used more like a weapon than a tool.  Therefore, the at-will classification can give the city the license to steal and avoid transparency, if anything is said, an employee can be fired and a gag order placed.  That’s why the whistleblower act is important.  The first US law adopted specifically to protect whistleblowers was the 1863 United States called the False Claims Act (revised in 1986), which tried to combat fraud by suppliers of the United States government during the Civil War.  The act encourages whistleblowers by promising them a percentage of the money recovered or damages won by the government and protects them from wrongful dismissal.  A whistleblower is now defined as  a person who tells the public or someone in authority about alleged misconduct, dishonest or illegal activities occurring in a government department, a public or private organization, or a company. The alleged misconduct may be classified in many ways; for example, a violation of a law, rule, regulation and/or a directthreat to public interest, such as fraud  health/safety violations, and corruption.  Therefore, if you were fired based on the whistleblower law, you may have been unlawfully terminated and have grounds for a lawsuit.



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