You Can’t Fight City Hall (Unless You’re Crazy)

Have you ever worked as a public employee for the city of St. Petersburg? Have you ever been wrongfully terminated and wondered what it would take to vindicate your rights against the city? Well, look no further! This Article details the true story of my client Mr. Meaton’s journey through the legal system to do just that. As a public employee, you have a constitutionally protected property interest in your job, which means you must be afforded due process under the law before that property interest can be taken from you. The issue in this case, however, was not whether Meaton was provided a due process hearing, which he was, but rather whether he was fired for just cause and whether the city of St. Petersburg (not the employee?) was entitled to multiple hearings once the just cause issue was decided as a matter of law. After all, the employee is the one who is entitled to a due process hearing, not the employer, right? Wrong (according to this case). In Florida, if an individual (or, as in this case, an employee) wants to appeal the quasi‐judicial decision of such an agency (here the Civil Service Board), the only vehicle the employee can use is common law certiorari. But here is the kicker: Florida courts have held that a circuit court, acting in its appellate certiorari capacity, cannot order affirmative relief. That means that when the court quashes an order of an agency, the controversy is treated as if no order or judgment had been entered at all, and it is back to the drawing board (no pun intended) for the employee. He or she will have to bring their case again to the same Board that just denied their claim! In short, finding for an employee but remanding a case back to the Board is not justice. It is a violation of that employee’s due process rights. This Article details exactly why.