Tuesday, June 27, 2017

CalPERS Changes Eligibility Rules for Industrial Disability Retirement

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) posted Circular Letter 200-018-17 on March 30, 2017. Among other things, this Letter addresses changes to the eligibility determinations for certain local safety members applying for industrial disability retirement. 

In the past, CalPERS relied on the employer’s recommendation to verify eligibility of any member for industrial disability retirement. However, CalPERS will now independently evaluate whether certain members are eligible. The employer must obtain CalPERS’ determination of a member’s eligibility to apply for disability retirement before the employer starts the process of a disability determination for any of the following circumstances:

  • Disciplinary process underway prior to the member’s separation from employment.
  • The member was terminated for cause.
  • The member resigned in lieu of termination.
  • The member signed an agreement to waive his or her reinstatement right as part of a legal settlement (i.e., Employment Reinstatement Waiver).
  • The member has been convicted of or is being investigated for a work-related felony.
The Letter also imposes a requirement for local agencies to re-evaluate eligibility determinations for disability retirees under the voluntary service retirement age. The purpose is to verify whether the recipient remains physically or mentally disabled from the position which they disability retired for the condition(s) that they were approved for.

The Letter requires employers to provide all relevant personnel documents and medical records to CalPERS. This information will be used to conduct the second evaluation of a member’s medical incapacity and employment status.  However, providing such information to CalPERS creates a conflict for safety employers. For example, Penal Code section 832.7 prohibits employers from disclosing peace officer personnel records without the peace officer’s written consent or a Pitchess motion. Employers are also prohibited from disclosing medical information without written authorization from the employee.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Martindale-Hubbell Recognizes Mastagni Holstedt Attorney John Bakhit with Highest Honor

Martindale-Hubbell has recognized John Bakhit with its highest honor, an AV Preeminent rating, indicating a peer review for the highest level of professional excellence.  John is the Managing Attorney of Mastagni Holstedt's Ontario office.

Mr. Bakhit's practice centers on labor and employment law, where he handles complex claims arising out of the Public Safety Officers' Procedural Bill of Rights, the Firefighters’ Procedural Bill of Rights, the California Labor Code, the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, complex contract negotiations with City, County, and State agencies, and other statutes protecting the rights of employees.

Prior to  law school, Mr. Bakhit served as an Oakland Police Officer working in Patrol and the Crime Prevention Unit, where he regularly wrote and served search warrants, worked undercover, and testified as an expert witness in court.