Protecting your name and reputation means a lot, especially in the world of government jobs where employment files are kept and shared on mostly all employees. If a government employee’s employment file has something negative regarding her name and reputation, she may find it impossible to get another government job upon being fired. In this respect, the government-employment world is slightly different than the private-sector world where, for example, a person may hide past employers and reasons for dismissal.
So, in Georgia, what does an unclassified government employee do when he or she is fired and his or her reputation has been damaged during the termination process?
Classified employees can be terminated. But these type of employees generally have the right to appeal the reason(s) for their termination. That means that classified employees generally have privy to a more complete administrative process that allows them to fight more forcefully against their termination and thus protect their name and reputation. However, unclassified employees are, generally, not so fortunate.
Once an unclassified employee is terminated, the employee generally cannot appeal the decision. So what can you do, if you are terminated, and during the termination process things are said about you that damage your reputation and chances to get another government job? Unclassified employees may have an option that protects their name and reputation.
The option is called a “name clearing hearing.” The idea behind this type of hearing is that damage done to a government employee’s reputation qualifies as a “liberty interest.” Essentially that means that you “may” be entitled to procedural due process, a hearing regarding the matter that has affected your name and reputation.
There are several factors that a lawyer must examine to ensure that a client may seek this remedy. Of those factors, here are six (6): (1) A false statement must have been made; (2) that statement must have been of a “stigmatizing nature” and related to (3) the discharge of the government employee; (4) the statement must have been made public by (5) the government employer; and (6) the discharged employee must not have had a meaningful opportunity to clear his or her name. Although these are not all the factors that will determine whether you are entitled to a name clearing hearing, they represent a good starting point, for the analysis of your case.
Of the above-mentioned six (6) criteria, point six may prove to be the most difficult. For example, if the unclassified employee was given an opportunity to provide a statement/report in his or her defense, did she have a meaningful opportunity to clear her name? This question and others are best suited for an experienced attorney in this area.
Contact the Oinonen Law Group LLC.