LOUKISHA A. DAISY
PLAQUEMINES PARISH GOVERNMENT
FROM PLAQUEMINES PARISH CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION NO. 2015-003
Christine L. DeSue Richard R. Schulze COUNSEL FOR
E. Linzy Javier Jalice THE KULLMAN FIRM COUNSEL FOR
composed of Judge Edwin A. Lombard, Judge Roland L. Belsome,
Judge Sandra Cabrina Jenkins
CABRINA JENKINS JUDGE
a civil service matter which began when plaintiff Loukisha
Daisy appealed the termination of her employment by the
Plaquemines Parish Government (the "PPG"). On
February 24, 2016, after a one-day hearing before the
Plaquemines Parish Civil Service Commission (the
"Commission"), Daisy's appeal was granted, and
she returned to work. After the Commission paid Daisy back
pay, she filed applications with the Commission seeking
additional back pay, exceptional pay, and attorney's
fees. On November 15, 2016, the Commission denied her
applications. Daisy appeals that decision.
reasons that follow, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
March 25, 2014, Daisy submitted an application for employment
for the position of Chief Internal Auditor at the PPG. On May
20, 2014, the Commission sent a letter offer to Daisy stating
that "[a]s a condition of employment, we require that
you agree to complete all required courses and possess a CPA
within one (1) year of your hire date." Daisy agreed and
accepted the offer.
2, 2014, Daisy began employment as Chief Internal Auditor for
the PPG. In accordance with the Plaquemines Parish Civil
Service Rules ("Civil Service Rules"), Daisy began
serving a six-month probationary period, which was extended
for an additional six months, or until June 2, 2015. On June
2, 2015, Daisy gained permanent civil service status.
11, 2015, Daisy was informed that the PPG was considering
termination of her employment. Daisy was suspended, effective
immediately, until a final determination was made as to her
employment status. On June 25, 2015, a predetermination
hearing was held during which Daisy was afforded an
opportunity to present evidence, statements or information to
be considered in determining her employment status.
30, 2015, the PPG terminated Daisy's employment on the
following grounds: (1) Daisy failed to obtain her CPA license
within one year of her date of hire; (2) Daisy failed to
produce and tender monthly audit reports in accordance with
her job description and the Plaquemines Parish Charter; and
(3) at the predetermination hearing, Daisy submitted a
"fraudulently confected" letter from a PPG audit
committee member purporting to extend the time for her to
obtain her CPA license from one year to two years from her
date of hire.
23, 2015, Daisy filed a Petition of Appeal to the Commission.
Daisy's appeal sought relief from two actions by the PPG:
(1) dismissal; and (2) "other, " which she
described as "[d]id not receive exceptional pay or
proper pay increases." Daisy's Petition of Appeal
requested "reinstatement of [her] position, clearing her
name and any payments and benefits for which she [was]
December 18, 2015, the PPG filed a Motion for Partial Summary
Disposition seeking dismissal of Daisy's claim for
January 6, 2016, the Commission began an evidentiary hearing
on Daisy's appeal. Before the testimony began, the
Commission orally granted the PPG's Motion for Partial
Summary Disposition on the grounds that Daisy's claim for
exceptional pay was not properly appealable under the Civil
Service Rules, and that, even if the matter were appealable,
it was not timely filed. The Commission also stated that
"if [Daisy's] appeal is granted the [exceptional
pay] matter may still be heard in any post-decision finding
of fact regarding the reinstatement and back pay that may be
February 24, 2016, the Commission issued a written judgment
granting Daisy's appeal. Specifically, the Commission
found that, because the PPG did not enforce the CPA license
requirement during Daisy's probationary period, and
instead waited until after the period ended to terminate her
employment, the PPG waived the CPA condition under which
Daisy was employed. With respect to Daisy's failure to
provide audit reports, the Commission found that because the
PPG's audit committee members did not request or require
monthly reports from Daisy, this could not be used as a basis
for disciplinary action. Finally, with respect to the letter
purporting to extend the time for Daisy to complete the CPA
requirement, the Commission found no fraud on the part of
Daisy. The Commission concluded, with respect to the three
grounds for discipline, that the PPG had not established
legal cause or conduct by Daisy that impaired the efficiency
or operation of public service.
March 22, 2016, the PPG appealed the Commission's
February 24, 2016 judgment to this Court. On April 28, 2016,
the PPG filed a Motion to Withdraw and Dismiss its appeal.
Daisy returned to her job as Chief Internal Auditor.
August 3, 2016, Daisy filed an Application for Attorney's
Fees with the Commission in which she sought reimbursement of
$32, 305.18 in attorney's fees and expenses incurred
appealing her wrongful termination.
August 2016, the PPG paid Daisy $22, 827.70 in net back pay.
On August 29, 2016, Daisy filed a "Memorandum in Support
of Dispute Regarding Back Pay and Exceptional Pay" with
the Commission. As part of her dispute as to the amount of
back pay due, Daisy argued that the PPG wrongfully denied her
back pay during a two-month period in which the wrongful
termination hearing was continued, and that the calculation
of back pay should have included judicial interest and
reimbursement of retirement contributions withheld during her
period of dismissal. She also re-urged her claim for
October 20, 2016, the Commission heard oral argument on
Daisy's dispute over attorney's fees, back pay, and
exceptional pay. On November 15, 2016, the Commission issued
a written decision denying Daisy's requests for
attorney's fees, back pay during the period of the
continuance, and exceptional pay.
December 8, 2016, Daisy filed a Notice of Appeal to this
Court from the Commission's November 15, 2016 decision.
court reviews the Commission's findings of fact using the
clearly wrong or manifest error standard of review. Liang
v. Dept. of Police, 13-1364, p. 8 (La.App. 4 Cir.
8/20/14), 147 So.3d 1221, 1225. In reviewing the
Commission's determinations on questions of law, this
court exercises its constitutional duty to review questions
of law de novo and render a judgment on the record.
Id. "[T]he appropriate standard of appellate
review of actions by the Civil Service Commission is to
determine whether the conclusion reached by the Commission is
arbitrary or capricious." Aucoin v. Dept. of
Police, 16-0287, p. 2 (La.App. 4 Cir. 3/29/17), -- So.3d
--, 2017 WL 1164939, *4. "Arbitrary and capricious"
means that there is no rational basis for the action taken.
Williams v. Dept. of Utilities, 03-1473, p. 6
(La.App. 4 Cir. 1/28/04), 867 So.2d 26, 30.