Yesterday, March 30, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Executive Order N-40-20, which deals with a myriad of subjects impacting both public and private sectors, necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. There are two significant aspects of the Executive Order that are of particular interest to our public safety clients: (1) The order extends by 60 days the deadline in Government Code §3304(d) for completing investigations of alleged misconduct by public safety officers covered by the Public Safety Officers’ Procedural Bill of Rights Act (“POBR”); and (2) The order extends by 60 days the deadline for serving a notice of adverse action under Government Code §19635, which specifically applies to state employees.
At present, §3304(d) provides a one-year statute of limitations for bringing a disciplinary action (or denying a promotion on grounds other than merit) against any public safety officer covered by POBR. The one-year period for recommending discipline begins from the agency’s discovery of the alleged misconduct by a person authorized to initiate an investigation. As a result of the Executive Order, that deadline is extended to one year and 60 days. Keep in mind, the numerous exceptions to this deadline remain unchanged.
The Executive Order also extends by 60 days the existing three-year deadline for bringing an adverse action against a state employee for violations of any civil service law. Under §19635, the statute runs from the date the act of misconduct was committed, except for acts of fraud, embezzlement and falsification of records where the statute runs from the time of discovery of the fraud, embezzlement and falsification.
The Executive Order left the time deadlines unchanged in the Firefighter Procedural Bill of Rights Act.
Our office has had an opportunity to fully consider the legal implications of the Executive Order and its potential applicability will vary between cases. Any client that has questions regarding the Executive Order and the analysis of our firm, is encouraged to contact us.