Civil Service Law, Disciplinary Appeals & Arbitrations


The Firm has substantial experience in providing advice and counsel in connection with the creation, set-up, maintenance, and working of all types of civil service systems recognized under Texas law for public safety personnel, primarily fire and police. Civil service systems under Texas law have their origin in state law applicable to municipalities and counties, as well as in city charters, and in certain cases, collective bargaining labor contracts. Origination

The Firm is able to provide advice and counsel in connection with the creation of a civil service system for those units of local government that take the initiative to do so. This includes the creation of a civil service system for municipalities under Chapter 143 of the Texas Local Gov’t Code for qualifying municipalities, or pursuant to applicable City Charter provisions, and Chapter 158, Texas Local Gov’t Code for counties. Rule Making

The first order of business once a civil service system is usually the creation and establishment of a set of operational rules. The Firm has significant experience with the rule-making process, and can assist a newly formed civil service board or commission with understanding the scope of the rule-making authority, defining the operational objectives of the board or commission, establishing internal operating procedures, and understanding the scope of authority for the commission or board.

Testing for Entry Level and Promotional Candidates

By definition, a civil service systems relies on qualifications, skills, and merit for hiring and promotions. This necessarily means establishing proper standards and criteria for screening applicant for entry level positions in a police or fire department, and for promotional opportunities as well. The testing process must meet certain minimum legal requirements, and is subject to challenges to test questions. The Firm has experience in advising civil service boards and commission through this process.

Disciplinary Appeals

The Firm also has substantial experience in providing guidance and assistance to department heads in connection with appeals from disciplinary actions taken. The Firm can guide and assist management personnel in the conduct of an internal affairs investigation, how to evaluate facts and evidence, how to prepare a disciplinary charge, how to negotiate discipline with individual employees or an employee’ labor representative, and how to carry the burden of proof in presenting a case. The Firm has experience in presenting cases, briefing the cases, either to a civil service board or commission, or before an arbitrator selected through an arbitration provision. Given the state wide experience with civil service arbitrators, the Firm is familiar with most arbitrators and maintains a bank of arbitration awards to assist in advising clients.

Other Civil Service Issues

The Firm has substantial experience in provide advice and counsel to civil service boards and commission with respect to a variety of other issues that often arise, including but not limited to things such as, 1) military leave; 2) lay-offs and reductions in force; 3) rehire; 4) performance evaluations; 5) civil service investigations; and other such matters.