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Decisions

Orders related to all Merit Protection Commission precedent setting decisions are summarized below:


  

ISSUE: Mailbox Rule - Timeliness of appeals filed with the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission

BACKGROUND: A permanent classified employee with the Department of Corrections filed an appeal with the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission of his involuntary demotion. The Executive Director of the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission dismissed the appeal after making a determination that the employee did not "file" his appeal with the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission within 20 calendar days after receipt of the notice of involuntary demotion. The employee appealed to the District Court of Tulsa County and then to the Court of Civil Appeals of the State of Oklahoma.

RULING: On April 13, 2004 the Court of Civil Appeals ruled on this matter. The Court of Civil Appeals found that the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission's rule that appeals are deemed filed upon receipt by the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission was unconstitutional and violated the Oklahoma Constitution, Article 5, ? 46.

CITATION: 2004 OK CIV APP 59


  

ISSUE: Jurisdiction of the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission over Court employees

BACKGROUND: An unclassified employee of the Workers' Compensation Court filed an appeal with the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission alleging a violation of Title 74 O.S., ? 841-7, commonly known as the "Whistleblower Act" when her employment with the Worker's Compensation Court was terminated. After investigation, the Executive Director determined that a violation of Title 74 O.S., ? 841-7 may have occurred and the matter was set for hearing before an Administrative Hearing Officer. Prior to the hearing the Worker's Compensation Court appealed the matter to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma.

RULING: On November 8, 1993, the Supreme Court of Oklahoma ruled on this matter. The Supreme Court of Oklahoma found that personnel management decisions of courts that are subordinate to the Supreme Court's administrative powers are reviewable solely by the Supreme Court. The legislature may not delegate the Supreme Court's Constitutional Authority (Const., Art. 7, ? 6) to any other department of state government, and the courts are not state agencies.

CITATION: 1993 OK 145, 863 P.2d 1226


ISSUE: Jurisdiction of the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission over employees of The Oklahoma State System of Higher Education

BACKGROUND: An unclassified employee of the Langston University filed an appeal with the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission alleging a violation of Title 74 O.S., ? 840-2.5, commonly known as the "Whistleblower Act" when his employment with the Langston University was terminated. After investigation, the Executive Director determined that a violation of Title 74 O.S., ? 840-2.5 may have occurred and the matter was set for hearing before an Administrative Hearing Officer. The Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission relied on Attorney General Opinion Number 88-015 in determining that the Commission had jurisdiction. In that opinion, the Attorney General found that the "whistleblower" provisions of the Oklahoma Personnel Act were applicable to institutions within the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education. Prior to the hearing, Langston University appealed the matter to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma.

RULING: On February 12, 2001, the Supreme Court of Oklahoma ruled on this matter. The Supreme Court of Oklahoma found that the legislature was powerless to delegate the constitutional control over the management of institutions to any department, commission or agency of state government. The Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission did not have jurisdiction to entertain appeals from these institutions and any provisions found in ? 840-2.5 which may appear to contravene or abridge the institutions' fundamental-law power clearly offend the exclusive authority granted them by the terms of Article 13-A and Article 13-B of the Oklahoma Constitution.

CITATION: 2001 OK 17, 19P.3d 865


ISSUE: Jurisdiction of the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission over the Oklahoma Governor

BACKGROUND: An unclassified employee of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department filed an appeal with the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission alleging a violation of Title 74 O.S., ? 841-7 (now ? 840-2.5), commonly known as the "Whistleblower Act" when Governor Walters removed him from the position of Cabinet Secretary. After investigation, the Executive Director determined that the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission did not have jurisdiction over the Governor's Office and the matter was dismissed. The employee filed a mandamus with the Supreme Court of Oklahoma to require the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission to hold a hearing.

RULING: On October 2, 1991, the Supreme Court of Oklahoma ruled on this matter. The Supreme Court of Oklahoma found that the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission does not have jurisdiction over the Governor pursuant to the Oklahoma Constitution, Article VIII, ? 1.

CITATION: 1991 OK 99, 849 P.2d 391


ISSUE: Definition of term "citizen" as used in Title 74 O.S., ? 840-1.18

BACKGROUND: The Oklahoma Public Employees Association filed suit in the District Court of Oklahoma County against certain officials of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation under Title 74 O.S., ? 840-1.18(D) (then 840-14(D)). The District Court of Oklahoma County granted summary judgment and dismissed the petition on the ground that the Oklahoma Public Employees Association, a non-profit Oklahoma corporation, was not a "citizen" within the contemplation of Title 74 O.S., ? 840-1.18(D) and therefore had no standing or capacity to bring the suit - a jurisdictional defect. The Oklahoma Public Employees Association appealed to the Court of Appeals.

RULING: On October 30, 1991, the Court of Appeals ruled on this matter. The Court of Appeals found that to treat a corporation as a citizen was consistent with the legislative objective outlined in the Oklahoma Personnel Act. Title 74 O.S., ? 840-1.18(D) requires that all monies recovered in any such action shall be paid to the State Treasury. As a practical matter, a non-profit organization such as the Oklahoma Public Employees Association might well be the only type of "citizen" able or willing to undertake such a Title 74 O.S., ? 840-1.18(D) action.

CITATION: 1991 OK CIV APP 111, 827 P2d 178


ISSUE: Commission's Authority to Use Alternative Dispute Resolution

BACKGROUND: Five Oklahoma Department of Transportation employees filed appeals with the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission alleging that a grievance resolution decision regarding a promotional action was not correct. After investigation, the Executive Director determined that violations of the Oklahoma Personnel Act and Merit Rules may have occurred. The matter was set for hearing before an Alternative Dispute Resolution Program Panel. The Panel found that violations did occur and ordered the position vacated. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation appealed to the Commissioners and then to the District Court of Oklahoma County. Both of these entities affirmed the decision of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program Panel. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation appealed the decision of the District Court of Oklahoma County, to The Court of Civil Appeals of the State of Oklahoma. One of the arguments raised by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation was that the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program Panel was not qualified to function in the capacity of conducting a hearing and as such exceeded its authority and violated the Oklahoma Constitution, Article 7, ? 1.

RULING: On April 6, 2001, The Court of Civil Appeals ruled on this matter. The Court of Civil Appeals found that the Oklahoma Legislature created the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program and directed the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission to adopt and promulgate rules to implement the program. The Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission promulgated the rules which set forth the particular conferences available and the procedural rules applicable. After reviewing the procedures outlined in the binding arbitration conference rule, the Court did not find that the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program Panel violated any rule promulgated by the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission. The elected Legislature makes public policy for the State and it is within the Legislature's prerogative to change the common law to reflect a change of time and circumstances. The Legislature has authorized disputes to be resolved through the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program. The Court found no violation of the Oklahoma Constitution, Article 7, ? 1. The Court affirmed the decision of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program Panel, the Commissioners and the District Court of Oklahoma County.

CITATION: 2001 OK CIV APP 111, 827 P2d 178