Civil Service Division’s First Year Progress Report

For more information on the Civil Service Division and how to file a complaint click here!

It has been one year since OMES & the Civil Service Division implemented OPEA legislation HB 1146 which expanded state employee due process to 95% of Oklahoma State Employees. When first began lobbying for this change many OPEA members rightfully had concerns about changing the old Merit Protection System. The Merit Protection System was created in the 1980s. It was our bread and butter for nearly 50 years. However, The old Merit Protection System was showing signs of age and the state agencies had found different ways to game the system and deny employees due process. Our two biggest issues with the old system were that there were no time limits for cases and agencies could simply “unclassify” a position to remove that employee’s due process rights. This allowed agencies to continuously file for continuances to delay hearings. This would leave a state employee in limbo and often required them to forfeit the case simply because they couldn’t wait for the case to conclude because they weren’t being paid. The fight to stop agencies from unclassifing positions was a losing battle. By the end of 2021 40% of state employee jobs were “unclassified” meaning they had no due process rights and could be terminated without cause. Due to decades of work by OPEA members, board, and staff this change has codified state employee due process.

We initially introduced, lobbied, and celebrated the passage of HB 1146 in the 2021 legislative session. The bill took effect on January 1, 2022. The Modernized Due Process for State Employees is managed by the Civil Service Division of Human Capital Management (CSD HCM). During the first half of the year, CSD operate on temporary rules while we worked to edit & adjust the permanent rules that were signed into law in the 2022 legislative session. In the first part of the year, we spent a lot of legal resources creating precedents and working out kinks with the new system. To be frank we will continue to find issues and work to improve the protection of the new system as we find issues just like we had done with the Merit Protection System for nearly 50 years. In our opinion, the new system is in full swing and it has been transformational for Oklahoma state employee due process.

We know you want to see the stats

so we have requested the statistics. One big asterisk for this chart below is it is for Q1 2023, and it only includes the cases heard by CSD. Each agency has its own internal complaint process for lower-level disputes so the data will only include issues that were immediately assigned to CSD or escalated from an agency’s internal complaint process. So it won’t include any cases like “Someone keeps stealing my lunch”. This is data for serious complaints.

CSD Q1 2023 Data Chart
The highlight from this chart shows that most cases are resolved on average by 26.5 days from the date of the initial adverse action that sparked the CSD complaint. Everyone will notice that 15 cases were denied, but we have no information on those cases. Those 15 cases were most likely pursued by an individual state employee who filed without consulting with OPEA. What I can tell you is that in every case OPEA brought to CSD not one was denied.

Q1 2023 data detailed breakdown:

  • 60 cases filed
    • 15 denied
      • Incomplete petition or nonsensical information: 9
      • Untimely filed: 1
      • Joinder to other complaints: 3
      • Does not qualify: 2
    • 45 cases were accepted
      • Involuntary demotions: 2
      • Written reprimands: 14
      • Punitive transfer: 1
      • Suspensions without pay: 8
      • Terminations: 18
      • Whistleblowers: 2
    • Of the 45 accepted cases:
      • 34 closed cases
        • Settled in mediation: 10
        • Mediation unsuccessful, case dismissed: 1
        • Dismissed by complainant: 2
        • Final decision issued: 7
        • Dismissed complainant no-show: 6
        • Settled outside of mediation/hearing: 5
        • Joinder to another case: 1
        • Whistleblower: 2
      • 11 open cases
        • Waiting for mediation dates: 4
        • Pending file completion for ALJ Review: 5
        • Waiting for hearing dates: 2

Information on CSD cases from January 1, 2022 to October 28, 2022

CSD To date

  • Total cases filed: 188
    • Closed: 174
    • Open: 12
    • Pending: 2
  • Total Cases Denied: 54
  • Total Cases Accepted: 134
    • Involuntary Demotions: 5
    • Written Reprimands: 47
    • Punitive Transfer: 1
    • Suspensions without Pay: 21
    • Terminations: 51
    • Whistleblowers: 9
  • Number of Mediations held: 83
    • Written Reprimand Mediations: 42
    • Other than Written Reprimand Mediations: 41
    • Number of cases settled in mediation: 33
      • Number of Written Reprimands Settled in Mediation: 14
      • Number of cases besides Written Reprimands Settled in Mediation: 19
    • Number of Hearings Requested: 26
    • Number of Hearings Held: 14
      • Final decisions issued: 9
      • Complainant no-show to Hearing: 1
      • Complainant dismissed complaint at Hearing: 1
      • Announced Settlement at or before Hearing: 1
      • Pending final decision: 2
    • Others Dismissed after PHC no Hearing: 7
      • Final Decision issued after PHC no Hearing: 3
      • Settled outside after PHC no Hearing: 4
    • Number of ALJ Reviews: 11 completed (one had 2 ALJ reviews due to Petition for RRR granted), 4 pending documents, 1 in progress

 SEDRP Mediation Program

  • Requests for mediations submitted: 11
    • Mediations held: 8
    • Pending mediation date: 0
    • Denied alternate mediation because it was a disciplinary action: 3

In Conclusion

This data is promising. It shows that the new system is working and state employees are getting the due process they deserve. OPEA will not disclose any case details, but what we can say is that OPEA members who have used the new system are getting fair outcomes and timely conclusions. Our biggest word of advice is DO NOT TRY AND REPRESENT YOURSELF! If your complaint is serious enough to go to the CSD you better believe your state agency is coming with lawyers. OPEA members who file with CSD have expert legal representation throughout the whole process. This a reminder to tell your friends it is better to be an OPEA member and not need us than to need us and not have us because no case that was filed with OPEA listed as their representative was denied. For more information follow this link or call OPEA at 405-524-6764

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