Court Rules That an Employer May Unilaterally Discontinue a Past Practice of Allowing Sheriff’s Employees to Review Investigative Files Prior to Interviews
In Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs v. County of Orange, the Court of Appeal decided that the Orange County Sheriff did not violate the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (“MMBA”) when it unilaterally stopped allowing employees to review investigative files before being interviewed in connection with a disciplinary investigation.
Previously, it had been a practice in the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to give deputies, investigators, and sergeants complete access to the Department’s internal affairs investigative files before submitting to investigative interviews. Under the past practice, a deputy, investigator or sergeant was able to prepare for an investigative interview by seeing what their co-employees had stated, as well as reviewing photos, videos, and any other evidence and witness statements in the file. The Sheriff decided that effective January 1, 2011, the employees would not be able to review the investigative files until after the interviews. The Court of Appeal ruled that this was not a violation of the duty to meet and confer.
To discuss ways to address this unfortunate ruling and how it may, or may not, apply to your situation, contact your labor law counsel.
By Anne Yen | June 17, 2013