By John V. Berry, Esq., www.berrylegal.com
In our legal practice we represent Fairfax County employees (police officers, teachers, administrators, etc) in defense of disciplinary actions. Disciplinary actions can range from verbal counseling to removal / termination from employment. This article covers the more common issues associated with serious proposed actions against Fairfax County employees. Such actions should be taken, according to Fairfax County regulations only “for good cause and after careful review of allegations with a goal, where appropriate, of correcting problem situations.” County of Fairfax, Virginia Personnel Regulations at 16-5.
Disciplinary Process Begins with Investigation
Typically, the first step in the disciplinary process for Fairfax county employees is the investigatory process. This usually occurs as a result of a complaint from a supervisor or member of the public. Sometimes the investigatory process can consist of a detailed investigation into allegations of misconduct by county investigators (in serious matters) or other times it can simply consist of a short investigation conducted by an employee’s supervisor (less serious matters). The investigation may or may not include an interview of the employee under investigation. If the investigation does not result in a finding of misconduct, the matter is resolved. If a finding of misconduct is found, Fairfax County may determine to move forward with discipline for the county employee.
Proposed Disciplinary Action
The first step for serious disciplinary cases follows the investigation and usually takes the form of a written disciplinary proposal, termed an “Advance Notice Letter.” Chapter 16 of the Fairfax County regulations provides the range of potential disciplinary actions for county employees and guidance on proposed disciplinary actions. The Advance Notice Letter can propose a serious suspension or removal / termination from county service. It will also specify sufficient detail about the factual basis for the proposed disciplinary action, a listing of any previous disciplinary offenses, along with noting the employee’s right to reply (usually within 5 business days of receipt of the letter).
Following the response to the proposed disciplinary action, a decision will be issued by the deciding official. When the decision is issued the employee will usually be provided their rights for appealing any disciplinary actions taken. Such rights likely include the Fairfax County grievance process which is covered in Chapter 17 of the Fairfax County regulations. The grievance process has a number of timelines which are short and important to keep track of should an employee wish to appeal.
We represent Fairfax County employees in their legal defense against disciplinary actions. If you need legal assistance, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook at Berry and Berry PLLC Facebook Page.