Monday, March 19, 2012

Court of Appeal Upholds Termination of Correctional Officer For Telling Inmate to "Go Ahead" With Suicide Attempt

In Cate v. California State Personnel Bd. (Cal. Ct. App., Mar. 12, 2012, E053011) 2012 WL 810662, the Court of Appeal upheld the termination of a correctional officer accused of taunting a suicidal inmate. The Department terminated the officer, in part because he allegedly told another officer the inmate said “that she was going to hang herself” and he responded by saying “go ahead.” The inmate later attempted suicide.

On review, the Court of Appeal noted “the overriding consideration in these cases is the extent to which the employee’s conduct resulted in, or if repeated, is likely to result in, harm to the public service.” As a result, the Court decided against reducing the officer's punishment from termination to a 30-day suspension.