Representing Modesto City Employees Association Members Since 2007

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Modesto Labor Employment Attorney Law FirmThe attorneys and staff of Rose Law are proud to have been representing the dedicated public servants of the Modesto City Employees Association (MCEA) since 2007. Our law firm’s representation includes collective bargaining, contract enforcement through grievance prosecution, defense of adverse employment actions, assistance of members who require medical leave or accommodations, prosecution and defense of unfair labor practice charges, legal training and advice to MCEA officers, directors, and members, advocacy during private arbitrations, and general legal counsel to the MCEA Board of Directors.

In addition, members are eligible for discounted rates for other legal services such as injury and accident representation, criminal defense, general civil litigation, and advice and consultation on any legal matter.

Members are encouraged to contact the Rose Law legal team for legal assistance and guidance. Use the contact form on the right side of this page, or call (916) 273-1260.

Grievances & Disciplinary Appeals

Grievances, Adverse Actions, Performance Evaluations & Union Representation

    Right to Representation

    MCEA members are guaranteed the right to union representation during investigative interviews that the member reasonably believes may lead to disciplinary action. This right is often known as the “Weingarten right” based upon the 1975 U.S Supreme Court case entitled NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc.

    When the Right Arises

    Here are some examples when your Weingarten right to union representation arises:

    • When the purpose of the meeting is to investigate allegedly inadequate work performance
    • When the purpose of the meeting is to investigate suspected workplace misconduct
    • When the purpose of the meeting is to elicit facts and get your “side of the story” to determine whether discipline will result
    • When the purpose of the meeting is to get additional information to support or bolster a disciplinary decision already made
    • When you are required to explain or defend your conduct and you reasonably fear your explanations or statements may result in an adverse employment action

    When There Is No Right

    Here are some examples when you do not have a right to union representation:

    • When the meeting or discussion is merely for the purpose of conveying work instructions, training, or needed corrections
    • When the purpose of the meeting is simply to inform you about a disciplinary decision that has already been made and no information is sought from you (such as to hand you a disciplinary notice)
    • During any discussion initiated by the you after you are informed of a disciplinary decision (Tip: Receive the notice and leave without initiating discussions about it)
    • Where City management has assured you prior to the meeting that no discipline or adverse consequence will result
    • During run-of-the-mill office or shop floor conversations

    During Performance Evaluation Meetings

    Generally speaking, employees are not entitled to a union representative during performance evaluation meetings, unless there are unusual circumstances where the employee’s work performance has been criticized and remains under scrutiny for special evaluation, or the employee is on a performance improvement plan or program that could lead to discipline.

    Asking For Representation

    City of Modesto management does not have to inform you of your right to representation before conducting the interview. It is up to you to ask for union representation.

    As soon as you become aware that the City is seeking information that may result in discipline, or to support a disciplinary decision, you should request a union representative. There is no harm in asking for representation even if you’re not sure you’re entitled to it. The City cannot discipline you simply for asking. You could also ask whether or not the meeting could result in disciplinary action. If the answer is anything but “no,” it would be reasonable for you to ask for representation.

    Denial of Representation

    Denying you a union representative when you are entitled to one is an unfair labor practice enforced by the California Public Employment Relations Board.

    If you have questions about your right to representation, contact the labor and employment attorneys at Rose Law, or the MCEA director or shop steward in your region.

    Disciplinary Actions & Appeals

    The City maintains an Administrative Directive (HR-08) outlining its progressive discipline policy. Once you have successfully completed your probationary period, you may appeal adverse employment actions. These include demotion, reduction in pay, suspension, and discharge.

    Letters of Reprimand

    Letters of reprimand are subject to an administrative review with the supervisor or manager, but are not appealable using the procedures explained below. You also have the right to submit a written response to the department head within 30 days, which will be forwarded to the Human Resources Director and including in your official personnel file.

    Notice of Proposed Discipline

    When receiving a notice of proposed disciplinary action, you are entitled to the following information:

    1. A written notice
    2. Date(s) the proposed discipline will be effective
    3. Reasons including all facts and the specific grounds for discipline
    4. Any written materials, reports, and documents upon which the action is based

    You have 10 working days following when you receive the written notice to respond either orally or in writing to the accusations against you. The meeting to present your oral response is often referred to as the Skelly meeting, which is named after the 1975 California Supreme Court Case entitled Skelly v. State Personnel Board.

    In some cases, the City may place you on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of your written or oral response to the notice of proposed adverse action.

    Final Notice of Discipline & Appeal Options

    After you respond orally or in writing to present your arguments and your case, City management will make a final decision concerning the discipline proposed. If the final decision is to impose discipline you have only 10 days to appeal that decision in writing either (1) to the Civil Service Commission or (2) under the grievance procedure in Article 10 of the SCEA MOU, which culminates in binding arbitration.

    If you have questions about disciplinary actions or your appeal rights, contact the labor and employment attorneys at Rose Law, or the SCEA director or shop steward in your region.

    Grievance Defined

    Employees in MCEA bargaining units may file grievances concerning any dispute over the interpretation or application of the
    • MCEA MOU
    • City Council resolutions
    • City rules, regulations, policies, procedures, and administrative directives
    • Unwritten personnel practices
    • Working conditions

    Filing Deadline

    Grievances must be filed within 20 working days from the time the employee knew or had reason to know of the facts giving rise to the grievance. Time limits may be waived or extended by mutual agreement between MCEA and the City. Grievances that are not filed in time are barred.

    Grievances challenging demotions, suspensions, reductions in pay, discharge or other adverse employment action must be filed within 10 working days from the date the employee is notified of the adverse action in person or by certified mail. (See Appealing Adverse Actions.)


    The agreed-upon grievance procedure includes four steps: (1) department management, (2) human resources, (3) voluntary mediation, and (4) final and binding arbitration.

    Step 1

    To initiate a grievance, discuss your concerns with management in your department. Identify the MOU provisions, policies, rules, procedures, and practices you believe were not followed correctly and explain all the facts. Tell your department management what you consider to be an appropriate remedy to your grievance. You should promptly document your discussion in writing. You may use the City of Stockton’s grievance form, or simply type a memo, letter, or email. Department management has 15 working days to investigate your concerns and respond.

    Step 2

    If the grievance is not resolved at the department level, the grievance can be elevated to the City’s Human Resources Department within 10 working days. The grievance must be made in writing to the Director of Human Resources and include, at a minimum:

    • The specific policy, rule or provision which is alleged to have been violated;
    • A statement of facts comprising the violation; and
    • The requested remedy.

    The Human Resources Director has 20 working days to investigate the grievance and respond.

    Step 3

    If the grievance is not resolved at the Human Resources Department level, the grievant, MCEA, and the City of Stockton can try private mediation. Mediation is a voluntary process where a neutral third party meets with both sides to try to reach a common ground.

    Step 4

    The last step in the grievance procedure is final and binding arbitration. Arbitration is a private trial presided over by a neutral attorney selected by the parties whose decision is conclusive.

    The complete grievance procedure can be found in Article 10 beginning on page 26 of the MCEA MOU. If you have questions about grievances or need assistance in bringing a grievance, contact the labor and employment attorneys at Rose Law, or the MCEA director or shop steward in your region.

    Performance Evaluations

    The City of Modesto has published an Administrative Directive (HR-13) governing the policies and practices for employee performance evaluations.

    Probationary Employees

    Employees serving a 6-month probationary period are supposed to receive two probationary evaluations at the end of the 2nd and 5th months of employment.

    Employees serving a 12-month probationary period are supposed to receive three probationary evaluations at the end of the 4th, 8th, and 11th months of employment.

    Rejections of probationers must occur before the end of the probationary period and must be substantiated by specific and documented performance deficiencies. Timely rejections on probation are not subject to appeal.

    Regular Status Employees

    Employees who have attained regular status are supposed to receive a performance evaluation annually within 30 days of their anniversary date of hire. Once a regular status employee attains the top step of his or her salary range, his performance evaluations are supposed to be given every other year.

    Advancement in salary step is contingent upon satisfactory performance evaluations. However, supervisory delays in completing an employee’s performance evaluation on time will not delay the employee’s step increase. The department is supposed to complete and submit the CS-23 form to process the salary step advancement.

    Self-Evaluations and Private Reviews

    Employees are permitted to prepare and submit a self-evaluation, as well as a private review of the evaluation with the supervisor or manager who prepared it.

    Special Evaluations

    Special evaluations may be completed for exceptionally good or unsatisfactory performance.

    Appeal of Performance Evaluation

    If an employee does not agree with the performance evaluation, the employee may submit a written appeal to the department head raising specific issues of disagreement. The department head shall investigate the evaluation and render a written decision on all issues raised by the employee within twenty (20) working days of receipt of the appeal. If the employee is not satisfied with the department head’s response, the employee may prepare a written response and have such response included in their official personnel file.

    If you have questions about performance evaluations or your appeal rights, contact the labor and employment attorneys at Rose Law, or the SCEA director or shop steward in your region.

    Classification Issues

    Working Out of Class, Acting Pay, Special Assignment Pay, and Reclassification Requests

    Acting Pay

    Acting Pay

    Acting Pay is compensation for employees who are assigned in writing to perform the majority of job duties of a higher level classification. The assignment may result from unfilled positions or employee absences in excess of 5 working days. Acting pay must be approved by the City Manager and the department prior to assigning an employee to work in a higher level classification.

    Under Article 17, Section 17.10 of the SCEA MOU beginning on page 66, any employee who is assigned in writing to work in a higher paid classification and who performs a majority of the duties of that higher position, will receive the rate of pay at a step in the range of the higher classification which would have been received if the employee had been promoted into that classification. Such written authorization must be made by the appointing authority and must be made prior to the effective date of the acting assignment. Compensation for acting pay will be based on each full shift worked. Time in acting status does not normally qualify an employee for future step increases.

    If you have questions about Acting Pay, contact the labor and employment attorneys at Rose Law, or the SCEA director or shop steward in your region.

    Special Assignment Pay

    Special Assignment Pay

    The City of Stockton maintains an Administrative Directive (HR-49) setting forth its policy on Special Assignment Pay.

    Special Assignment Pay is intended to be additional compensation for employees who are assigned, in writing, additional duties and responsibilities while performing regularly assigned responsibilities.

    Special Assignment Pay shall not take effect until expressly approved by the department head, the Director of Human Resources, and the City Manager. Special Assignment Pay shall not be recommended or authorized unless the special assignment shall continue in excess of five (5) work days. The additional compensation shall be in addition to any other pay or allowance to which entitled and continue for the duration of the special assignment or project; however, shall not be considered a permanent pay increase.


    Special Assignment Pay requests must be in writing and must be approved first by the department head, second by the Director of Human Resources, and finally by the City Manager.

    The department head shall prepare Form CS-23 (Personnel Action Form) which shall clearly state the additional duties and responsibilities being assigned. The Form CS-23 shall state the specific dates (beginning and ending) to which the Special Assignment Pay is to be assigned and must contain the relevant MOU section applicable to the special pay. The completed Form CS-23 must be forwarded directly to the Human Resources Department for secondary approval. The Human Resources Department shall forward the form to the City Manager for final approval. The Special Assignment Pay shall not take effect until approved as set forth above.

    The department head shall monitor the special assignment to ensure special pay continues to be appropriately warranted. If the department head desires to extend Special Assignment Pay beyond the date authorized on the original Form CS-23, such extension shall not be automatic. A new Form CS-23 must be prepared and contain information as set forth above, approved, and forwarded to the Human Resources Department for secondary approval, then forwarded to the City Manager for final approval. Requests for extensions must be submitted to the Human Resources Department no later than one (1) pay period prior to the effective date of the requested extension date.

    If you have questions about Special Assignment Pay, contact the labor and employment attorneys at Rose Law, or the SCEA director or shop steward in your region.

    Reclassification Requests

    Reclassification Requests

    Frequently, employees believe they are performing job duties that are beyond their designated classification warranting a reclassification to a different (typically higher paying) classification.

    The City of Stockton maintains an Administrative Directive (HR-52) setting forth its policy concerning reclassification requests.

    Civil Service Promotional Process

    All employees should be assigned to the proper position in the City of Stockton’s Classification Plan. No employee should be permitted to work out of class without appropriate authorization and compensation.

    It must be remembered that promotional opportunities in the City of Stockton are recruited and filled by competitive civil service examination rather than gradual accretion of higher level duties followed by reclassification to a higher paying job to the exclusion of other interested and qualified candidates.

    SCEA and the City have a shared interest in seeing that all City employees have a fair opportunity to compete for promotions, and to inhibit supervisors or managers from making promises of “grooming” a particular person for a promotion. Therefore, each request for reclassification will be evaluated against this important policy goal.

    Reclassification requests are not intended to provide a back-door pathway to promotion without a competitive examination. They are intended to apply to the position and not the incumbent occupying the position, and only when material and permanent changes have been made to the duties and responsibilities of the position.

    Making the Request

    A reclassification request can be made by the employee only with the concurrence of either the department head or SCEA, and only applies to employees who have completed their probationary period and attained regular status. An individual employee cannot make a reclassification request without approval of the department head or SCEA.

    Timing of the Request

    Reclassifications requests must be made to the Human Resources Department in March of each year, and evaluated, approved, or denied by December 31 of that same year.


    In March, the employee must route a written request for reclassification through his or her department head to the Human Resources Department. The request must include the basis for the reclassification request, including:

    1. The nature and scope of changes in the duties and responsibilities;
    2. The approximate date the position began performing the higher level duties and responsibilities;
    3. The circumstances that led to the assignment of higher-level duties and responsibilities to the position;
    4. The level of increased knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform the job functions; and;
    5. Effect of action on departmental budget.

    After the employee’s request is received, the Human Resources Department will forward to the employee a Job Analysis Questionnaire (JAQ) to complete. The employee’s supervisor or manager will be asked to state whether he or she agrees or disagrees with the accuracy of the JAQ.

    Human Resources will analyze the request and the JAQ, which may include a “desk audit” of the employee’s work, which means observation or a “ride-along” of the employee’s workday. Human Resources will then forward its recommendation to the City Manager, who has final authority.


    Each case is different. Remember that just because a job duty was previously performed by an employee occupying a higher level classification does mean that job duty can only be performed by an employee at that level. You must look at the distinguishing characteristics of your own job description and others to discern whether job duties are truly higher level duties, or beyond the scope of the job description, or fall within the scope of your own job – even if you have never performed those duties before. Also, you must consider how much time you are spending performing duties related to one or more of the distinguishing characteristics in the other job description.

    Appeal Process

    SCEA members may appeal the modification or denial of a reclassification request to the Civil Service Commission, who shall investigate the matter in accordance with chapter 2 of the Stockton Municipal Code and the Civil Service Rules and Regulations for Miscellaneous Employees. The effect of the Commission’s action shall be final and there shall be no appeal therefrom.

    If you have questions about reclassification requests or your appeal rights, contact the labor and employment attorneys at Rose Law, or the SCEA director or shop steward in your region.

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