Chapter 4.50


4.50.005    Scope of coverage.

4.50.010    Suspension.

4.50.020    Involuntary demotion.

4.50.030    Category 1 – Actions that may result in discipline.

4.50.040    Category 2 – Actions that may result in discipline.

4.50.050    Department director procedure for imposing adverse action.

4.50.060    Classified employee’s right to a hearing on department director’s intent to impose adverse action.

4.50.070    City manager procedure for imposing adverse action.

4.50.080    Layoffs.

4.50.090    Resignation.

4.50.100    Retirement.

4.50.110    COBRA notice.

4.50.005 Scope of coverage.

This chapter covers employees other than appointed officers and at will employees. Disciplinary actions are not subject to grievance procedures. (Ord. 12-001 § 3, 2013)

4.50.010 Suspension.

A department director or the city manager with concurrence of the personnel officer may suspend an employee with pay at any time for cause. Within five working days, the person imposing the suspension shall follow the procedures set forth in PMC 4.50.060 or 4.50.080, respectively. (Ord. 12-001 § 3, 2013)

4.50.020 Involuntary demotion.

A department director or the city manager with concurrence of the personnel officer may notify an employee of intent to involuntarily demote an employee whose ability to perform required duties falls below an acceptable standard or for disciplinary purposes. The department director or city manager may notify the employee only after following the applicable procedures set forth in PMC 4.50.060 or 4.50.080, respectively. (Ord. 12-001 § 3, 2013)

4.50.030 Category 1 – Actions that may result in discipline.

A. Reasons for disciplinary action up to and including discharge under this section include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. Unsatisfactory work quality or quantity; carelessness or inefficient performance of duties; neglect of duty or refusal to perform work assigned;

2. Refusal or willful disobedience to comply with instructions or lawful orders given by supervisors or designee;

3. Inappropriate conduct towards a supervisor, other employee(s), or member of the public including but not limited to: verbal or physical abuse of a supervisor, other employee(s), or member of the public, raising voice, making false or misleading statements that may damage the integrity or reputation of the supervisor or other employees; obscene or abusive language;

4. Excessive/habitual tardiness and/or absenteeism, unauthorized extension of break and lunch hours, and leaving work before scheduled;

5. Horseplay;

6. Conflict of interests as defined in city policy;

7. Committing or condoning a violation of law, including an ordinance or city rules and regulations;

8. Improper or unauthorized use of city owned or leased property vehicles, telephones, or credit cards. Misuse of city or government funds;

9. Failure to maintain required professional or technical certifications for the position;

10. Uncivil or discourteous acts toward citizens or other city employees, including subordinates, coworkers and superiors;

11. Smoking in prohibited areas including city owned vehicles;

12. Possession of alcoholic beverages on city property during work time;

13. Consumption of an alcoholic beverage or nonprescribed narcotics, tranquilizers, marijuana, or any illegal drugs within four hours before the employee is scheduled to report for work;

14. Willful negligence which results in injury to personnel or damage to city or government property;

15. Destruction, abuse, improper disposition, or unauthorized possession or removal from city premises of any property which does not belong to the employee;

16. Failure to report to the immediate supervisor an on-the-job injury or accident involving equipment, property, or employee;

17. Lewd or suggestive actions or behavior;

18. Failure to use or wear required safety equipment;

19. Other just cause.

B. These are not to be considered all-inclusive, and nothing herein prevents the city from properly disciplining and/or terminating an employee for any other reason. An employee may be subject to dismissal if he or she repeats an offense in Category 1 or has already received disciplinary action for the same offense.

C. Except in aggravated cases, before the department director or city manager notifies the employee, the department director or city manager will constructively counsel the employee in an effort to correct the behavior. In the event the employee does not make satisfactory progress and continuation of employment is in jeopardy, the department director or the personnel officer shall counsel the employee, and give the employee a copy of a written plan of improvement listing the requirements which the employee must meet and setting reasonable time limits in which they must be met to avoid termination. Thereafter, if the department director or the city manager believes the employee has failed to meet the requirements, the department director or city manager shall notify the employee of intent to discharge following the procedures set out in PMC 4.50.060 or 4.50.070. (Ord. 12-001 § 3, 2013)

4.50.040 Category 2 – Actions that may result in discipline.

A. The following rules apply to city employees and are for the protection of city employees and property. Violations of these rules may result in disciplinary action including and up to termination. The following list includes but is not limited to the following prohibitions:

1. Dishonesty; including, without limitation, falsifying or making a material omission on an employment application, time record, internal investigation statements, or any other city record;

2. Deliberate disregard of the law or any other city rules and policies;

3. Flagrant insubordination, including willful disobedience to a lawful order;

4. Sexual harassment as defined by city policy;

5. Harassment and discrimination as defined by city policy;

6. Intoxication or use of alcoholic beverages during work time or lunch breaks;

7. Bringing firearms or other weapons to working areas (other than sworn officers);

8. Work place violence as defined by city policy;

9. Computer use violation as defined by city policy;

10. Drug and alcohol use in the workplace as defined by city policy;

11. Abuse, destruction or theft of city property;

12. Absences without proper notification to respective supervisor;

13. Fighting (verbal threats or physical contact) on city property;

14. Possession or use of nonprescribed narcotics, tranquilizers, marijuana, or any other illegal drugs either on city property, during work time or lunch break; or being under the influence of any of these substances during work time or lunch time;

15. Use of prescription medication that causes impairment in judgment, coordination, and physical abilities;

16. Failure to inform supervisor of prescribed medication where there is likelihood that such medication could affect your job performance and safety;

17. Refusal to submit written notification from a medical or mental health professional stating employee’s prescription medication will not cause impairment in judgment, coordination or physical abilities, if requested by supervisor;

18. Driving a city-owned vehicle at any time the employee’s ability to do so is impaired by the use of prescription or nonprescription drugs or intoxicating substances. “Vehicle” includes, but is not limited to: road grader, bobcat, front end loader, four wheeler;

19. Making false claims of work related injury or illness;

20. Engaging in any conduct which creates a safety, security or health hazard, to include disregard of safety rules;

21. Falsification of city records;

22. Negligence resulting in substantial environmental damage;

23. Unauthorized sleeping on duty;

24. Unauthorized use of overtime;

25. Failure to notify the department director of any criminal conviction for a violation occurring no later than one day of such conviction;

26. Failure to notify the department director during the shift of occurrence of any of the following, including but not limited to, work related personal injury, city property damage and/or injury or damage occurring to a third party.

B. If an employee is indicted in state or federal court on a felony charge they may be placed on administrative leave without pay or benefits pending the outcome of the administrative investigation. (Ord. 12-001 § 3, 2013)

4.50.050 Department director procedure for imposing adverse action.

A. Except as provided in PMC 4.50.030, before notifying an employee of intent to impose adverse action, a department director must consult with the personnel officer, city manger, and city attorney. Thereafter, the department director shall:

1. Give written notice to the employee of the charge or charges against the employee;

2. Explain to the employee the basis, i.e., the evidence, supporting each charge; and

3. Allow the employee a reasonable opportunity to present their side of the story. If the employee requires time to prepare the presentation, up to three days shall be provided. Such presentation shall not be prepared on city’s premises. The employee may be represented by counsel at their own expense.

B. After steps in subsections (A)(1) through (3) of this section have occurred, the department director shall consult with the city manager and city attorney and determine in writing:

1. Whether there are reasonable grounds to believe the charges against the employee are true; and

2. Whether the charges support the adverse action.

C. Only after the procedures in subsection (A) of this section have been completed may the department director notify the employee of intent to impose adverse action.

D. The notice of intent to impose adverse action shall notify the employee:

1. Of the department director’s intent to impose a specified adverse action on the employee;

2. Of the statement of cause for the action including the determination of items in subsection (A) of this section;

3. That the employee has the right to a hearing before a hearing officer to contest the imposition of the adverse action; and

4. That if the employee does not deliver a written request for the hearing to the city manager within two working days after service upon the employee of the notice of intent, the adverse action shall be imposed and the employee shall have waived all right of appeal.

E. For administrative investigation purposes only, a department director may require written statements from any employee, including the charged employee, describing or explaining the charged employee’s conduct or omissions at any time. Failure by any employee to provide a complete and truthful statement may be grounds for expedited discharge. (Ord. 16-018 § 3, 2016; Ord. 12-001 § 3, 2013)

4.50.060 Classified employee’s right to a hearing on department director’s intent to impose adverse action.

A. An employee who has received a notice of intent to impose adverse action has the right to a hearing before a hearing officer in accordance with the provisions of this section.

B. Hearing Officer Appointment.

1. To be appointed as a hearing officer, a person must possess knowledge of this title, personnel regulations, and principles of due process. A person may not act as hearing officer in any case in which there is any direct or indirect financial interest and must certify to the absence of any such interest before receiving the appeal record. A hearing officer may not be a current city employee or a current member of the council or commission.

2. A hearing officer shall be impartial in all decisions, both in fact and in appearance. The hearing officer shall not engage in ex parte contact with any person concerning the appeal either before or after the appeal hearing.

3. The city clerk shall solicit persons who are willing to serve as hearing officers, and shall maintain a list of interested persons determined to be qualified.

4. Upon an appeal being filed, the city manager shall appoint the hearing officer and shall report the appointment to the council.

C. The employee’s request for a hearing on a notice for intent to impose adverse action must be in writing, signed by the employee or counsel and delivered to the city manager within two working days of receipt of written notice of the adverse action. Employee’s failure to request a hearing within the time and manner provided shall be deemed a waiver of employee’s appeal rights and to any appellate review to which the employee might have otherwise been entitled; and the department director’s action becomes final.

D. If the employee duly delivers a request for hearing, the department director’s imposition of adverse action is stayed pending decision by the hearing officer. The hearing officer will hold a hearing within five working days from date of receipt of the request. The hearing officer may extend in writing the hearing date, but no extension of more than 10 working days shall be granted. The hearing officer shall duly notify the employee of the date, time and place of the hearing.

E. The employee, at employee’s own expense, may be represented by counsel.

F. If the employee wishes to question another employee or employees, the city manager will, if practical, provide for the employee’s attendance for questioning at no cost to the charged employee. The employee must notify the hearing officer, city manager and the department director of the names of the employee(s) at least three working days before the hearing or this right is waived. The hearing officer may determine the relevancy of evidence.

G. The hearing shall be closed unless the charged employee has requested otherwise.

H. All testimony shall be under oath. The proceedings shall be recorded. Upon written request, the employee is entitled to a recorded copy of the proceedings at no charge. The city manager, department director or representative and the hearing officer may examine and cross examine witnesses.

I. Exhibits may be introduced. Exhibits to be provided at the hearing by either party must be provided to the other party two working days prior to the hearing. The rules of evidence need not be strictly followed. Irrelevant or unduly repetitious evidence may be excluded. The factual record is closed at the close of the hearing. The hearing officer may continue the hearing for good cause.

J. The order of presentation is:

1. Brief opening statement by the department;

2. Brief opening statement by the employee, which is optional;

3. Presentation of evidence by department;

4. Presentation of evidence by employee;

5. Rebuttal as necessary;

6. Argument by department;

7. Argument by employee;

8. Rebuttal argument by department.

K. The department director must prove by a preponderance of the evidence the factual basis upon which the adverse action was imposed.

L. Within five working days from the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing officer shall render a written decision which shall be effective immediately or according to the terms of the written decision. The hearing officer may not increase the severity of the adverse action, but may approve it or modify any part. A copy of the hearing officer’s decision shall be furnished to the employee. The department director’s written determination and statement of cause, all written documents considered by the hearing officer, and the hearing officer’s decision shall be filed in the employee’s personnel record file.

M. The hearing officer’s final decision must notify the employee in writing of the provisions in subsection (N) of this section.

N. An employee who is dissatisfied with the hearing officer’s decision may appeal it to the superior court in Palmer. The appeal must be filed within 30 days of employee’s receipt of the decision. Employee’s failure to appeal within this time constitutes a waiver of the employee’s appeal rights and the hearing officer’s decision becomes final. (Ord. 16-018 § 4, 2016; Ord. 12-001 § 3, 2013)

4.50.070 City manager procedure for imposing adverse action.

A. Except as provided in PMC 4.50.030, this section applies to the following employees: administrative assistant to the city manager, airport superintendent and human resources specialist.

B. The city manager shall follow the procedures set forth in PMC 4.50.050.

C. An employee who is dissatisfied with the city manager’s decision may appeal as provided in PMC 4.50.060. (Ord. 16-018 § 5, 2016; Ord. 12-001 § 3, 2013)

4.50.080 Layoffs.

A. Reasons for layoff will include without limitation the following:

1. Shortage of funds or work;

2. The abolition of the position or classification;

3. Other material changes in the duties or organization; or

4. For related reasons which are outside the employee’s control or which do not reflect discredit upon the service of the employee.

B. Layoff Procedure.

1. The city manager may eliminate positions or classifications in the best interests of the city after consulting with the affected department director.

2. The duties performed by any employee laid off may be reassigned to other employees already working.

3. Palmer police department employees shall be laid off by department seniority within a job classification.

4. The city manager or designee shall give written notice to the employee of the proposed layoff. The notice shall state the reason for the layoff and the employee shall receive two weeks’ severance pay.

5. The employee’s final paycheck shall be tendered within three business days of the last day of employment and if mailed, shall be mailed certified return receipt.

C. Eligibility for Reinstatement.

1. An employee who has been laid off and who is not disqualified under subsection (C)(4) or (5) of this section will be given preference for reinstatement for any position that becomes vacant provided that the employee meets the minimum entry-level qualifications.

2. If more than one employee has been laid off, reinstatement preference will be given in order of departmental seniority for the Palmer police department and in order of qualifications elsewhere.

3. Acceptance of an appointment to any position, other than a temporary or part-time position, constitutes satisfaction of an employee’s reinstatement rights.

4. A layoff of more than one year shall terminate the employee’s entitlement to preferential reinstatement rights.

5. Once the employee has been reinstated into a position, the employee will have 90 days to adequately perform the duties of the new position. If, in the judgment of the department director, the employee fails within 90 days to adequately perform the duties of the new position, the employee will be terminated without further reinstatement rights. (Ord. 15-012 § 6, 2015; Ord. 12-001 § 3, 2013)

4.50.090 Resignation.

A. To resign in good standing an employee shall give at least two weeks’ notice to enable the city to make proper provision for filling the position. The requirements may be waived by a department director where adequate provision can be made in a shorter period of time. All resignations shall be made in writing and presented to the department director. Failure to provide required notice shall result in a final appraisal stating the employee did not leave in good standing.

B. Upon receipt of two weeks’ notice the department director may elect to pay two weeks’ severance pay in lieu of employee’s service. (Ord. 12-001 § 3, 2013)

4.50.100 Retirement.

The city participates in the Alaska Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), subject to the provisions of our PERS agreement. (Ord. 12-001 § 3, 2013)

4.50.110 COBRA notice.

A. Upon termination, the city or designee shall notify the employee of his or her right to extend the health plan coverage. This notice will be in accordance with COBRA, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. Under COBRA, if an employee terminates employment with the city of Palmer, the employee is entitled to continue participating in the city’s group health plan for a prescribed period of time, usually 18 months. (In certain circumstances, such as an employee’s divorce or death, the length of coverage period may be longer for qualified dependents.) COBRA coverage is not extended to employees terminated for gross misconduct.

B. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) of 1994 provides an employee who is on military leave of absence will retain their health insurance coverage for the first 31 days of uniformed service. Employees on military leave of absence which extends beyond the 31 days will be eligible for COBRA benefits for up to 24 months.

C. If a former employee chooses to continue group benefits under COBRA, he/she must pay the total applicable premium plus a two percent administrative fee. Coverage will cease if the former employee fails to make premium payments as scheduled, becomes covered by another group plan that does not exclude pre-existing conditions or becomes eligible for Medicare. (Ord. 12-001 § 3, 2013)