(CN) – A laid-off California teacher should have been given preference over other candidates when applying for a lower position in the same school district, a state appeals court ruled.
Grossmont Union High School District laid off Charles Tucker and then refused to hire him for a lower position, instead picking an applicant who had never worked for the district.
Tucker filed a petition for writ of mandate, claiming the district violated re-employment legislation by not giving him preference over new applicants. The superior court agreed that the district violated his re-employment rights.
The district claimed the legislation gave Tucker preference only for a position within the same classification as the one he was laid off from, and not for different positions even if he is qualified.
The appellate court ruled that the education legislation does not create a job classification barrier for laid-off employees if they are qualified for the position for which they are applying.
“District’s contrived reading of sections 45298 and 45303 together could eliminate any advantage for the laid-off employee versus a new applicant,” Justice O’Rourke wrote.
“By requiring that the preference be available only if the laid-off employee is applying for a position within the exact same class from which he or she was laid off, a district would be free to simply eliminate the position or class after laying off the employee, thereby doing away with the benefit the Legislature intended.”