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