L.A. County at Odds With Assistant DAs

LOS ANGELES (CN) – The L.A. County District Attorney’s Office sued the Association of Deputy District Attorneys in a fight over how to determine employee performance ratings.

     Joined by the county itself, District Attorney Steve Cooley’s Office claims the county’s Employee Relations “ignored controlling [California] Supreme Court authority” to make an administrative decision and compel Cooley’s office to bargain over how to determine employee performance ratings.
     The plaintiffs claim the defendant commission ignored a California Supreme Court decision that “holds bargaining is not required where either the employer’s managerial needs or the transactional costs of bargaining outweigh any benefit to employer-employee relations.”
     Plaintiffs include the county’s Chief Executive Office, and its Department of Human Resources.
     The county claims the commission’s decision “would drastically expand the required subjects of negotiation and severely and unjustifiably hinder the operations of the county,” especially that of the District Attorney’s Office, which “would have to re-determine thousands of performance ratings.”
     The complaint claims that the Employee Relations Commission “never should have reached such issues in the first place, because the Association of Deputy District Attorneys was not yet a certified bargaining representative when the DA introduced the performance evaluation tool.”
     In 2008, the Association of Deputy District Attorneys demanded collective bargaining over the District Attorney’s use of an updated performance evaluation tool, which “was designed in part to enhance the objectivity in evaluating deputy district attorneys by removing elements of subjectivity in the evaluation process,” according to the Superior Court complaint.
     The District Attorney’s Office says it began using the performance evaluation tool in 2007, “after the Board of Supervisors adopted a strategic plan calling for the use of web-based methods to more effectively measure county employees’ work performance and ultimately improve their performance.”
     The District Attorney’s tool was meant to implement the board’s plan, which “was a fundamental managerial and policy decision over which the county had no bargaining duty,” the complaint states.
     According to the lawsuit, the Association of Deputy District Attorneys did not present evidence to the commission that “the value of bargaining … somehow outweighed either the transactions costs of the bargaining process or the need for unencumbered decision making” by any Los Angeles County departments.
     The Association of Deputy District Attorneys presented only an “unsupported opinion” that the District Attorney’s tool would have an adverse effect on public employees’ working conditions, hours, and wages, the complaint states.
     The county also claims the Employee Relations Commission “exceeded its jurisdiction” by finding that the District Attorney’s Office “changed” a civil service rule, when Civil Service Rule 20 “only sets forth required categories of overall performance ratings, not the means or methods of reaching such ratings.”
     The county seeks a writ of administrative mandamus and a writ of mandate to order the Employee Relations Commission to “cease and desist from making changes to the … performance evaluation system” because its decision would “severely impair the ability of the county and all of its departments to make and implement fundamental managerial and policy decisions.”
     The county is represented by County Counsel Andrea Ordin.

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