Guards lose pro­mo­tion ap­peal

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - LOCAL - By Nel­son Daran­ciang ndaran­ciang@starad­ver­tiser.com

A Hawaii ap­pel­late court has up­held a pro­mo­tions pol­icy for prison guards who have been sus­pended.

The In­ter­me­di­ate Court of Ap­peals ruled Thurs­day in cases from 2009 and 2010.

One guard caught sleep­ing on the job and not wear­ing proper footwear was sus­pended for 10 days. An adult cor­rec­tions of­fi­cer who ex­changed heated words with an­other guard got a five-day sus­pen­sion.

A guard who failed to turn in an in­ci­dent re­port net­ted a two-day sus­pen­sion, and an­other adult cor­rec­tions of­fi­cer re­ceived a one-day sus­pen­sion for claim­ing over­time for work he per­formed on a day he was sup­posed to be serv­ing a sus­pen­sion for prior mis­con­duct. And a prison guard who im­prop­erly re­leased an in­mate also got a one-day sus­pen­sion.

None of them chal­lenged their sus­pen­sions. They did, how­ever, chal­lenge the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Safety’s re­fusal to con­sider them for pro­mo­tion to su­per­vi­sory po­si­tions be­cause they ap­plied for the jobs within two years of get­ting their sus­pen­sions.

The em­ploy­ees chal­lenged the depart­ment pol­icy be­fore the Merit Ap­peals Board, which de­cided against them in 2012. The mat­ter was taken to Cir­cuit Court, where a judge turned them down in 2013. The rul­ing was ap­pealed to the ap­pel­late court.

The five em­ploy­ees ar­gued that the depart­ment can­not ap­ply the pol­icy be­cause it had not dis­closed it to the em­ploy­ees’ union, the pol­icy vi­o­lates the merit prin­ci­ple for civil ser­vice and the depart­ment did not fol­low rule-mak­ing pro­ce­dures to en­act it.

The court ruled that state col­lec­tive-bar­gain­ing law gives em­ploy­ers and unions the op­tion to ne­go­ti­ate pro­mo­tion pro­ce­dures and cri­te­ria but does not re­quire the em­ployer to dis­close to the union what qual­i­fi­ca­tions it will con­sider when pro­mot­ing em­ploy­ees.

The court also ruled that DPS’ pol­icy does com­ply with the merit prin­ci­ple be­cause it helps the depart­ment de­ter­mine the suit­abil­ity of ap­pli­cants for su­per­vi­sory jobs.

And the court ruled that the pol­icy is an in­ter­nal man­age­ment func­tion and that in­for­mal hir­ing poli­cies are not rules sub­ject to state rule-mak­ing re­quire­ments.

DEN­NIS ODA / DODA@STARAD­VER­TISER.COM

A rain­bow, echoed by an­other, stretched from Roo­sevelt High School to the Mot­tSmith Laniloa condo as rain clouds rolled through on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

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