Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill
Cleveland Board of Education
Defendant hired plaintiff as a security guard in 1979. On the job application he said that he was never convicted of a felony. However, in 1980, they found that he actually had been convicted of grand larceny in 1968. Plaintiff was dismissed because of his dishonesty in filling out the application. Plaintiff was not allowed to respond or challenge the dismissal.
Under Ohio Law plaintiff would have only allowed to be terminated for cause. Furthermore, the plaintiff would be allowed administrative review.
The plaintiff initially took the administrative review process. The administrative court upheld the dismissal. The plaintiff then brought an action in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. The District Court dismissed for failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted. It also ruled that because the statute that created the property right also created the process, by definition, there was due process given. The court of appeals reversed holding that "the compelling private interest in retaining employment, combined with the value of presenting evidence prior to dismissal, outweighed the administrative burden of a pretermination hearing."
The court first denounced the federal court theory that if a statute defines a property right, and the statute also determines the process for administering that property right, then there is due process per se. It claims that this will essentially gut the 14th amendment.
The court then goes on to weigh the governmental interest and the interest of the plaintiff against each other. The court says that the interest for the plaintiff is to continue to work and earn a livelihood. The government has a burden of keeping costs low and quickly removing employees. Yet the court contends that the government is helped by having a pretrial hearing as well: it gets to keep the labor of the employee rather than having to hire a new one, and it gets to keep the employee off of the welfare system. Furthermore, having a quick hearing would not make a huge administrative burden.
The court concludes that a employee should be given "oral or written notice of charges against him, an explanation of the employer's evidence, and an opportunity to present his side of the story."
Renquist says that if the Ohio statue is read more completely, it is questionable whether a property right was actually created. Furthermore, the balancing test made by the majority is not written with enough specificity to allow for guidance in the future.