California Judges Protest Secret Layoffs

     SAN FRANCISCO – A group of 32 recently sacked administrative law judges claim in state court that the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board met to decide on an “illegal layoff plan” in a secret, closed session.
     The board announced the layoffs, effective Nov. 20, to the judges’ union on July 22. A petition filed by the California Attorneys Administrative Law Judges and Hearings Officers in State Employment says the judges should have been advised of the plan while it was still being formed.
     “Prior to announcing the layoffs, the board met in a secret, closed session, and at some point decided to implement layoffs,” their petition says. “No notice was ever given to the public that layoffs would be discussed in closed session, and no announcement of the decision that was made in secret closed session was ever made in open session.”
     The judges say that the secrecy makes the decision null and void.
     The Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act requires all state agencies in California, including the CUIAB, to hold public meetings, provide notice of those meetings and provide a record of all actions taken.
     The judges’ petition notes that the board met 12 times in 2015, but none of the minutes posted on the board’s website make any reference to the impending layoffs.
     They also point out that several of the board’s agendas list a closed session portion for those public meetings, where items like “personnel matters” and “labor negotiations” were discussed, but no votes were reported.
     CASE General Counsel Patrick Whalen said Friday that he was unable to comment.
     The CUIAB said it wasn’t aware the petition had been filed.

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