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Burriss v. Dep't of Children & Family Servs.

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, First Circuit

April 24, 2015

VALLARIE BURRISS
v.
DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES

On Appeal from The State Civil Service Commission State of Louisiana. No. 17822. The Honorable David Duplantier, Chairman; John McLure, Vice-Chairman; G. Lee Griffin, Ronald M. Carrere, Jr., D. Scott Hughes, C. Pete Fremin, and Sidney Tobias, Members. Shannon S. Templet, Director, Department of State Civil Service.

REVERSED AND REMANDED.

Marta-Ann Schnabel, Kevin O'Bryon, Sherry Watters, New Orleans, Louisiana, Attorneys for Plaintiff/Appellant, Vallarie Burriss.

Rhonda M. Mercadel, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Attorney for Defendant/Appellee, Department of Children and Family Services.

Adrienne Bordelon, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Attorney for Defendant/Appellee, Shannon S. Templet, Director Department of State Civil Service.

BEFORE: McDONALD, CRAIN, AND HOLDRIDGE, JJ.

OPINION

Page 1054

[2014 1075 La.App. 1 Cir. 2] CRAIN, J.

In this appeal, we must determine whether an employee sufficiently alleged a disciplinary action to invoke the jurisdiction of the State Civil Service Commission. The employee filed an appeal with the

Page 1055

Commission alleging that her employer rescinded a pay raise after it was granted and became effective, based upon an incorrect determination that the employee violated an agency rule. The Commission found those allegations insufficient to set forth a disciplinary action and summarily dismissed the employee's appeal. We reverse and remand.

FACTS

Vallarie Burriss is a permanent-status employee with the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services. On September 27, 2013, Burriss learned that she would be receiving a four percent increase in her compensation effective October 1, 2013. That information was communicated by an email from the Secretary of the Department, Suzy Sonnier, to all Department employees, providing, in pertinent part:

I am happy to announce that [the Department] will give four percent increases for performance pay adjustments to all [Department] team members who meet the criteria of the Performance Evaluation System (PES). These performance pay adjustments will be effective October 1st and will be included in your October 18 payroll check.

The referenced " Performance Evaluation System" is a system utilized by state agencies to review and evaluate the performance of classified employees. Burriss was evaluated under the system on August 5, 2013, several weeks prior to the Secretary's email, and had received an overall evaluation of " [s]uccessful," which, according to the system's standards, meant her work and behavior " met the performance criteria." Consequently, pursuant to the Secretary's ...


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