You need an attorney and, in my view, you need one with specific experience in employment disputes involving your public agency. The advantage to you in an attorney who knows your agency's strengths and weaknesses, who knows the players and where the pressure points are, who understands the personnel culture and the limits of the authority of individual managers -- all of these are tangible and real advantages that can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.
Your union may be able to identify for you attorneys who have had success litigating against your employing entity. Or you can use Google and Google Scholar to pull up the cases that have involved your jurisdiction and agency and then check out the lawyers and law firms listed in those cases as the employee's counsel.
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Depending on which agency you work for or union you belong to, you should have appeal rights. Exercise them. Most government employees cannot be terminated without good cause. If you are in a union, speak to your union representative. Otherwise seek an attorney who represents public employees for assistance.
They say you get what you pay for, and this response is free, so take it for what it is worth. This is my opinion based on very limited information. My opinion should not be taken as legal advice. For true advice, we would require a confidential consultation where I would ask you questions and get your complete story. This is a public forum, so remember, nothing here is confidential. Nor am I your attorney. I do not know who you are and you have not hired me to provide any legal service. To do so would require us to meet and sign written retainer agreement. My responses are intended for general information only.
I agree with my colleague that you should contact your union rep, but I would strongly suggest that you contact an attorney even at this stage to guide you through the union appeal process. Our firm has done work in the public arena and would be happy to provide a free consultation to assess your potential claims. These cases are very fact specific, so without more detail, I would not advise you further without the benefit all of your circumstances. There are a number of good firms that practice in this area. The Orange County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service is a good source for names of such attorneys/firms. Be sure to act soon. I wish you the best of luck and good health.
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In addition to the good advice provided to you already, I would note that depending on the length of time you have already been out on unpaid leave, the nature of your job and the flexibility of your employer, it may be unlawful for your employer to terminate you because you need more leave. Additionally, if the harassment and discrimination that caused this stress is of the unlawful kind, you may have additional rights.
It would be very prudent of you to locate and consult with a good employment law attorney about the details of this situation. You may very well have a significant cause of action available to you, but you will not know until you take the time to discuss it with a good attorney.
Good luck to you.
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This is a very interesting and challenging area of the law. I am beginning to learn this area, because I see this scenario happening more frequently with California's budget issues.
The public entity probably has a duty to make the application for your permanent disability benefits on your behalf. If they won't do that, then you will need a lawyer to get a court order forcing the government entity to do what California law requires them to do. Many entities have different retirement plans, so this is not a one-size-fits-all issue.
Generally, the government must take you back and accommodate your disability or make the application to your retirement plan. They cannot have it both ways, but sometimes they do try.
On Monday, I am meeting with lawyers who specialize in these cases. There are very few California lawyers who are good at this, from what I am told.
Feel free to call me Monday late afternoon or in the evening for a referral.
David A. Mallen
310.895.0107 cell phone
310.606.0065 x103 office
David A. Mallen offers answers on Avvo for general information only. This offer of free, general answers is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. If you need specific advice regarding your legal question, you should consult an attorney confidentially. Many experienced California labor and employment attorneys, including David A. Mallen offer no-risk legal consultations to employers and employees at no charge. David A. Mallen is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, as well as the California Labor Commissioner and the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. Failure to take legal action within the time periods prescribed by law could result in the loss of important legal rights and remedies.
Permanent disability and personal injury Criminal charges for harassment Employment Employment law and finances Workers' compensation Employee retirement benefits Discrimination in the workplace Hostile work environment Termination of employment Wrongful termination of employment Appeals Court orders Discrimination