PERKINS V. CABINET FOR HEALTH AND FAMILY SERVICES
GOVERNMENT EMPLOYMENT: REPRIMAND
PANEL: NICKELL PRESIDING; COMBS AND MOORE CONCUR
DATE RENDERED: 6/29/2007
COA affirmed the dismissal of Pamela Perkins’s dismissal of her displinary action by the Kentucky Personnel Board since written reprimands were not included as "other disciplinary actions."
Perkins is an employee of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (Cabinet). In March 2004 she received a written reprimand for failure to follow proper procedures in obtaining approval to leave her work station prior to the end of her shift. She filed an appeal to the Board challenging the reprimand on the basis that it constituted penalization from the Cabinet without just cause. The Board agreed with the hearing officer’s findings and entered an order on dismissing the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.
Written reprimands were not to be included in KRS 18A.005(24) through the term “other disciplinary actions” and such matters are not subject to appeal to the Board under KRS 18A.095(9).
The sole issue to be addressed in this appeal concerns whether a written reprimand is a “disciplinary action” rising to the level of “penalization” as those terms are
used in the statutes. Actions deemed to be penalizations may be appealed to the Board,
Written reprimands are discussed, although not specifically defined, in KRS 18A.020. Thus, the proper interpretation of “other disciplinary actions” is also a matter of law. A reprimand, as the term is commonly used, is a severe, formal, or public correction of an unapproved action. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 991 (10th ed. 2002).
Pursuant to KRS 18A.020(2)(c), governmental employee reprimands are issued “for misconduct, other infraction, or failure to perform [the employee’s] duties in a proper or adequate manner.” Such reprimands are to be in writing and must follow a set protocol for content intended to inform the affected employee of such action, to advise of his or her corresponding rights, and to provide notice to him or her that such writing will be filed in the employee’s personnel records. Clearly, such reprimands equate to a “disciplinary action” for purposes of KRS Chapter 18A, and neither of the parties argues to the contrary.
However, the COA agreed with the WC Board that the use of a written reprimand, though technically a disciplinary action, does not rise to the level of a “penalization” as contemplated in KRS 18A.005(24) because there is no quantifiable impact upon the employee with respect to pay, status, or responsibility and tht the sole remedy for one allegedly aggrieved by a written reprimand is the filing of a written response A review of the specified disciplinary actions clearly shows the legislative intent was to include only those actions which had a direct and immediate impact on the affected employee, such as loss of rank, responsibility, pay, or discretion. Written reprimands do not result in such penalizing impact.
By Michael L. Stevens