Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Collier v. Sewerage & Water Board

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

August 1, 2018

CARNELL COLLIER
v.
SEWERAGE & WATER BOARD

          APPEAL FROM CITY CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION ORLEANS NO. 8508

          Dale E. Williams LAW OFFICE OF DALE EDWARD WILLIAMS COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT

          James E. Thompson, III Jade Brown-Russell SEWERAGE AND WATER BOARD OF NEW ORLEANS COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE

          Court composed of Judge Daniel L. Dysart, Judge Regina Bartholomew-Woods, Judge Dale N. Atkins

          Dale N. Atkins, Judge.

         Carnell Collier ("Appellant") appeals the October 27, 2017 judgment of the Civil Service Commission ("CSC") denying his appeal of his termination from his permanent, classified employment at the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans. While we agree with the CSC's finding that legal cause existed for taking disciplinary against Appellant, because we find that the punishment imposed - termination - was not commensurate with the offense, we reverse.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Appellant was a classified, permanent employee who worked as a Quality Assurance and Safety Inspector ("QASI") in the Networks Division of the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans ("S&WB") at all times relevant to this matter. A QASI is a senior-level position in the Networks Division, and Appellant supervised approximately fifty employees at the time of the alleged misconduct.

         The record reflects that on September 6, 2015, Appellant engaged in gambling in a building referred to as the "Labor Shack" on S&WB property. At the time of the incident, approximately sixty current and former S&WB employees were gathered in the Labor Shack to celebrate the retirement of a co-worker. The events of September 6, 2015 came to light when an anonymous letter and pictures were sent to Appellant's Supervisor, Engineering Division Manager Steve Bass ("Bass"). Based upon his review of the letter and pictures, Bass believed that Appellant was gambling on S&WB property, at a party attended by S&WB employees, several of whom Appellant supervised. According to his testimony, on October 24, 2015, Appellant was called into Bass's office to address a separate disciplinary incident, involving Appellant's unauthorized use of a S&WB vehicle to haul personal trash, as well as the gambling incident. Subsequently, he received a 48-day suspension for the unauthorized vehicle use infraction.[1]

         On February 4, 2016, the S&WB conducted a pre-termination hearing related solely to the gambling infraction presided over by Bass.

         A notice of the hearing had been issued to Appellant via certified mail, although he apparently did not receive it. He did receive a call from Bass on February 3, 2016, during which Bass notified Appellant that the pre-termination hearing was scheduled for the following day. The purpose of the pre-termination hearing was to provide Appellant an opportunity to respond to the allegation he had been gambling with other S&WB employees, on S&WB property, during a party attended by numerous S&WB employees. Appellant acknowledged that, prior to the pre-termination hearing, he was notified of the allegations against him as well as the contemplated level of discipline.[2]

         At the hearing, Appellant initially denied gambling at the retirement party. However, when presented with photographs of himself gambling at the event, Appellant acknowledged his actions. Bass offered Appellant an opportunity to respond to the allegations or provide any documents or evidence relevant to the allegations, and Appellant requested time to provide a written statement, which was granted. Appellant submitted a statement later that day, in which he acknowledged that he participated in an illegal act, but asked Bass and S&WB Executive Director Cedric Grant ("Grant") to take into account his twenty-one years of dedicated service when deciding on Appellant's discipline.

         Following the hearing, the S&WB terminated Appellant's employment effective Wednesday, February 24, 2016, in accordance with Civil Service Rule IX, Section 1, for committing acts to the prejudice of the S&WB. In the termination letter, the S&WB noted that Appellant had admitted to engaging in gambling activities on S&WB property while attending the retirement party of a fellow S&WB employee, and that at the time of the misconduct, Appellant was a supervisor and the senior ranking employee; as such, his conduct set a standard for other employees.

         On March 9, 2016, Appellant filed an appeal of his dismissal with the City Civil Service. On September 1, 2016, at Appellant's request, his appeal was continued while settlement was explored. Apparently unsuccessful in this regard, on June ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.