In 1866, the Civil Rights Act was ratified. This was in response to the tremendous amounts of pressure that nation was experiencing in the aftermath of the Civil War. As, Congress wanted to: protect the rights of former slaves and individuals who were deprived of them. Where, it gave citizens the ability to sue organizations and individuals that were engaging in actions that were designed to limit these basic protections. Part of the reason for this was because, Congress wanted to safeguard former slaves and minorities from being discriminated against. ("The Civil Rights Act of 1866," 2011)
However, as time went by it became apparent that the more added protections were needed to ensure that everyone was given the same safeguards under the law. As a result, Congress passed the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The established four basic principals that were designed to enhance the Civil Rights Act of 1866 to include: state / federal citizenship for all persons born in the United States regardless of race; no states are allowed priviledges / immunities under the law; no state can deprive a person of life, liberty or property without due process of law and no one could be denied equal protection. These elements are important, because they would form the basic foundation for what would become one of the cornerstones for ensuring that the rights of numerous individuals are protected in a variety of situations (regardless of race, ethnic background or other circumstances that could be a basic provision of these elements). (Kelly, 2011)
Over the course of time, this has led to a number of different civil rights cases based on actual or perceived violations of these provisions of the law. One of the most significant is the due process of law stipulation, as this has been used as the foundation for a number of civil rights law suits. To fully understand how this has been continually used over the years requires conducting an analysis of the court cases the Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill and the Connecticut Department of Public Service v. Doe. Once this occurs, it will provide the greatest insights as to how these different provisions of the law are having an impact on the way a wide variety of organizations and individuals are interacting with one another.
Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill
In 1979, the Cleveland Board of Education hired James Loudermill as a security guard. On the application that he filled out when applying for the job, he said that he never been convicted of felony. However, after working for nearly 11 months, the board was conducting a routine background check and it was discovered that he was convicted of grand larceny in 1968. As a result, they terminated his employment based on the fact that he had lied on his application. ("Cleveland Board of Education vs. Loudermill," n.d.)
Under Ohio law Loudermill was considered to be a civil servant. This meant that he was entitled to termination based upon cause, with a board of reviewing giving him the chance to state his case. He subsequently, filed an appeal with the Cleveland Civil Service Commission. They appointed a mediator and Loudermill argued that he was not providing the board of education with false information, as he believed that his 1968 conviction was considered to be a misdemeanor. The board of review sided with the school district and upheld the dismissal. ("Cleveland Board of Education vs. Loudermill," n.d.)
At which point, Loudermill filed a lawsuit in Federal Court alleging that his basic civil rights were violated under the 14th Amendment. This is based on the facts that he was not given a chance to respond to the charges against him prior to his dismissal and there was not sufficient time to prepare his case during the board of review. As, his lawyers argued that these actions that were a violation of the due process of law provision under the U.S. Constitution. ("Cleveland Board of Education vs. Loudermill," n.d.)
When this decision reached the U.S. Supreme Court they heard both sides of the case and ruled in favor of Loudermill. As, there were a number of key points that they highlighted which are relevant for all public sector employees to include:
Select public sector employees are entitled to due process of law under the Constitution. This is based off of the case precedent the Board of Regents of the State Colleges v. Roth. In this 1972 decision, the court ruled that the 14th Amendment does not apply to public sector employees (teachers) who are considered to be non-tenured and they are seeking some kind of review process for non- renewal of state teachers' contract. Unless, they can show that they were deprived of a property or liberty interest by a dismissal (despite the fact that there was no formal employment agreement in place for early discharge). This is important because, it shows how this is having an impact on the way this decision would influence the Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill. Where, the court felt that they were not giving Loudermill the opportunity to explain himself, which is considered to be a violation of the Constitution. The reason why, is because the school district was depriving him of his liberty interest through: not giving him a chance to defend the allegations that were made against him. As, they quickly dismissed him, without hearing his version of these events. In this aspect, they violated the 14th Amendment, because there was a clear interest of liberty. ("Cleveland Board of Education vs. Loudermill," n.d.) ("Board of Regents of the State Colleges v. Roth," n.d.)
There also was a violation of property rights under the Board of Regents of the State Colleges v. Roth. In this situation, there was no written / oral evidence that was presented to Loudermill. At the same time, the school board did not provide him with an explanation and evidence of the charges leveled against him, much less the right to respond to these allegations. According to the Supreme Court, this is violation of the 14th Amendment, with him not having the opportunity to challenge these charges and explain what took place. As, this knowingly depriving Loundermill of his property, without any kind of process for understanding both sides of the story before deciding to terminate him. ("Cleveland Board of Education vs. Loudermill," n.d.) ("Board of Regents of the State Colleges v. Roth," n.d.)
Based on these different facts, the justices found that District Court had made an error in judgment with ruling in favor of the school board. The reason why is because, any kind of pre-termination hearing should serve as a process to ensure that no mistakes were made against the party that is involved in this dispute. Where, this does not have to be a full hearing of the charges that are leveled against the defendant. Instead, this process must ensure that these charges against employees are correct and that the proper decision was made in support of the termination of this individual based on all relevant facts. ("Cleveland Board of Education vs. Loudermill," n.d.)
The Implications of the Case for Administrative Power and Efficiency
From the perspective of an administrator, this ruling meant that if they discovered any kind of employee wrong doing. They had to allow each person the chance to explain themselves and provide the evidence that they had against them. At which point, they had to have some kind procedure established to ensure that all of the evidence was in fact true (in the form of a pre-termination board).
Once this occurred, the employer could discharge the individual, as they heard both sides of the story. These different elements are important, because they are illustrating how the process of firing an individual must allow them the opportunity to defend themselves. As a result, administrators had a number of different hurdles that they would have to overcome when they were dealing with a variety of situations surrounding employee termination. This made the process of discharging someone more time consuming and difficult in comparison with other organizations. ("Cleveland Board of Education vs. Loudermill," n.d.)
Connecticut Department of Public Service v. Doe
This case is about the State of Connecticut's law requiring all public sex offenders to register with the Department of Public Service (DPS). As, this was the state's version of Meghan's Law, which required the police to: collect and distribute information about registered sex offenders in the area. ("Don't Panic," 2011) In the case of Connecticut, they were collecting and distributing this information to the public over the Internet. The basic idea was to provide parents with clear and accurate information about various adults that their children were coming in contact with. At which point, they could determine who they should be associating with based upon the information that was being provided to them. ("Connecticut Department of Public Service v. Doe," 2011) ("Connecticut Department of…