allegations of illicit drug use are not by themselves proof of such use and should not be allowed to deprive a citizen of valuable property rights without complying with due process standards.
This court simply cannot accept defendant's position that unskilled government employees with many years of service can be relegated to second class citizenship merely by labeling them excepted service non-preference employees. Under the defendant's reasoning a government employee could be deprived of his job without a due process hearing even though he may have been employed for over twenty years and was only months short of retirement.
The defendant has tenaciously resisted providing these plaintiffs with any form of a hearing. I do not believe that the institutions of this great government will fall by giving these five individuals the post-termination arbitration hearing as provided for under their Union collective bargaining agreement. All too often government agencies seek to dispose of a case through a procedural technicality rather than permit persons access to the administrative processes that have been established to afford them basic due process rights. I sometimes wonder why our government has established such elaborate and indeed costly administrative processes when it so often seeks to block their utilization on highly technical and often flimsy bases. Certainly our government can find some way of meeting its "kinder and gentler" standard and redirect its efforts to deal with matters such as the one before me on their merits.
Accordingly, I am remanding this case to the Home and directing that it take all steps necessary to provide plaintiffs with a hearing as provided under their collective bargaining agreement. The defendant must also provide plaintiff Horton with a new notice of employment termination and permit him to have all the grievance procedures that he is entitled to under the Home's rules. In the event of an adverse ruling by the Home, Horton shall have the same hearing rights under the collective bargaining agreement as will be provided the other plaintiffs.
I shall retain jurisdiction to ensure that this order is carried out and to provide such other relief as may be appropriate.
An appropriate order accompanies this opinion.
Upon consideration of the entire record in this case and the court's opinion of this date, it is
ORDERED that defendant take all steps necessary to provide plaintiffs Steppe, Little, Steadman, and Ward with a post-termination arbitration hearing as provided for under the collective bargaining agreement between the Home and the Union; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that defendant provide plaintiff Horton with a new notice of employment termination and permit Horton to have all the grievance procedures that he is entitled to under the Home's rules and the collective bargaining agreement. In the event of any adverse rulings from the Home, Horton shall have the same arbitration rights under the collective bargaining agreement as are provided to the other plaintiffs under this order.
This court shall retain jurisdiction to ensure enforcement of this order and to provide such other relief as may be appropriate.