PAULA C. DOVE
PLAQUEMINES PARISH CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION
FROM PLAQUEMINES PARISH CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION NO. 16-005
Ginsberg COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT.
Michael E. Kirby 126 Dickson Drive Leigh Melancon Kirby Apt.
A Belle Chasse, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE.
composed of Judge Rosemary Ledet, Judge Sandra Cabrina
Jenkins, Judge Regina Bartholomew Woods).
Rosemary Ledet Judge.
a civil service commission case. This case is unusual in two
respects. First, the employee, Paula Dove, was employed by
the Plaquemines Parish Civil Service Department
("CSD"); the CSD's Appointing Authority is the
Plaquemines Parish Civil Service Commission (the
"Commission"). The Commission thus has the dual role
of being the constitutionally created, administrative board
that heard the underlying appeal and the Appointing
the employee, Ms. Dove, was removed as a result of the
Plaquemines Parish Council (the "Council")
defunding her position. In response to the Council's
action, the Appointing Authority instructed that a layoff
process be implemented. As a result of the purported layoff,
Ms. Dove was removed from her position. Ms. Dove appealed the
layoff action to the Commission. The Commission found that
the Appointing Authority failed to meet its burden of proving
that Ms. Dove's removal was a layoff and thus ordered her
reinstated to her position with full back-pay. From that
decision, the Appointing Authority appeals to this court. For
the reasons that follow, we affirm the Commission's
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
6, 2015, Ms. Dove became a full-time employee of the
Plaquemines Parish Government ("PPG"). Her first
position was in the Finance Department as a secretary, a
classified civil service position. From June 28, 2016, to
July 12, 2016, the CSD posted an advertisement to PPG's
employees for the position of Civil Service Administrator,
also a classified civil service position. Ms. Dove applied
for the position; she and two other applicants interviewed
for the position. Because she was the highest scoring
applicant, she was selected.
facilitate Ms. Dove's transfer from the Finance
Department to the CSD, the CSD's Director, Ms. Barrois,
sent a memorandum, dated July 22, 2016, to the Plaquemines
Parish President, Edward Theriot. Mr. Theriot signed the
memorandum, approving Ms. Dove's transfer. On August 1,
2016, Ms. Dove began work as a Civil Service Administrator.
time of Ms. Dove's transfer to the CSD, the CSD had three
employees-two Civil Service Administrators (Ms. Dove and
another employee) and a CSD Director (Ms. Barrios). The CSD
also had a fourth position that was vacant (a scanning clerk
position). The two Civil Service Administrators reported
directly to the Director.
September 8, 2016, slightly over a month after Ms. Dove's
transfer to the CSD, the Council adopted, and the Parish
President signed, Ordinance No. 16-97 (the
"Ordinance"). The preamble of the Ordinance stated
that it was being offered "due to reductions in the 2016
operating revenue" and "after a review of the 2016
Manpower Structure was performed." The Ordinance
expressly referenced and defunded "Civil Service
Administrator 535-1162-02"-Ms. Dove's unique
employee job number. In response to the Ordinance, the
Commission, at its September 23, 2016 meeting, adopted the
following motion: "Ordinance 16-97 passed by the
Plaquemines Parish Council deleted the funding for personnel
in the Civil Service Department. Because we have not received
notice from the Plaquemines Parish Council instructing how
they want to process the vacancy incurred by Ordinance 16-97,
the director [Ms. Barrois] is instructed to initiate the
to implement the layoff process set forth in Plaquemines
Parish Civil Service Rule XIII, Section 1.1,  Ms. Barrois
prepared a spreadsheet comparing the overall performance
evaluation scores of the two Civil Service Administrators.
After determining that Ms. Dove had the lowest overall
average score, Ms. Barrois prepared a letter (the
"Notification of Layoff") to inform Ms. Dove of the
layoff. The letter, dated September 26, 2016, read as
The Plaquemines Parish Council passed Ordinance Number 16-97
at its meeting on September 8, 2016 un-funding the filled
Civil Service Administrator position number 535-1162-02. The
Finance Department has notified me they have removed to [sic]
funding form Civil Service Department salary budget. I have
asked the Council Secretary to instruct me in writing how the
Council wants to process the vacancy in order to remove the
employee from the filled position. As of today's date, I
have not received a reply.
As a classified employee of the Plaquemines Parish Civil
Service System, our Rules only allow removing an employee
from the service under Rule X Disciplinary Actions and Rule
XIII Layoffs. You have not had any violations to warrant
disciplinary actions under Rule X. Therefore, the Civil
Service Commission has instructed me to process a layoff of a
Civil Service Administrator in accordance with Rule XIII.
I have reviewed both Civil Service Administrators'
average service ratings, and you were determined to be the
employee having the lowest average service rating. I regret
to inform you that you will be laid off at close of business
October 8, 2016.
All layoff actions will be taken in accordance with Rule XIII
of the Civil Service Rules. . . . Permanent employees who are
negatively impacted by the application of these rules
may have the right to file an appeal to the Civil
Service Commission in accordance with Rule XIII. . . .
(Emphasis in original).
last paragraph of the letter reads as follows: "I regret
that these layoff actions are necessary to comply [with] the
Ordinance 16-97 adopted by the Parish Council and that you
are affected by it."
Dove appealed to the Commission. On December 6, 2016, a
hearing was held before a Hearing Examiner appointed by the
Commission. On February 1, 2017, the Commission
granted Ms. Dove's appeal, finding that the Appointing
Authority failed to meet its burden of proving that Ms.
Dove's removal was a layoff. In so finding, the
Commission reasoned that the September 26, 2016 letter-the
Notification of Layoff- "prima facie fails to
establish that the Appellant [Ms. Dove] was the subject of a
layoff properly initiated and implemented." Continuing,
the Commission noted that "the evidence is overwhelming
in favor of granting the Appellant's appeal."
Indeed, the Commission enumerated the following undisputed
facts that it found supported its decision:
• [A]t the time that Ordinance 16-97 was introduced, the
Appellant's position was approved by Ms. Barrois, the
Finance Department, and the Parish President, and that the
Appellant's position was budgeted and funded for the 2016
• [P]rior to the introduction of Ordinance 16-97, Ms.
Barrois and the CSD in fact had a position that was unfunded
for the 2017 budget, which could have been eliminated.
• [A]s a matter of course the Council was not defunding
budgeted, funded positions to deal with the Parish's
• [P]rior to the introduction of Ordinance 16-97,
neither Ms. Barrois as the Director of the CSD, nor the Civil
Service Commission, nor the Parish President nor anyone in
his administration was contacted or consulted regarding the
elimination of any position in the CSD.
• [T]he Council does not have the authority to
unilaterally terminate a Civil Service employee. Further,
there was no evidence educed at the hearing whatsoever that
the Council had the authority to unilaterally defund the
Appellant's budgeted, funded position in the manner that
• [T]he proper procedures and protocols for initiating
and instituting layoffs were not followed.
• [B]ecause of the Council's unilateral action
eliminating the Appellant's position, the CSD is unable