Are you an employee of a state agency or department in Florida? Have you been notified that disciplinary charges were filed against you by your supervisor or administrator? If so, you have the right to contest both the underlying charges and your employer’s proposed disciplinary action through a predetermination conference.
Predetermination allows you to provide your employer with information and evidence that may convince it to revise or withdraw its proposed disciplinary action. But you should not start this high-stakes process without a Tallahassee employment attorney from Cruz Law Firm, P.A., by your side.
When your rights and employment are on the line, turn to Florida’s leading employment law firm. Our legal team is ready to fight to protect your job, professional reputation, and career if you are accused of committing disciplinary violations at work. We will answer your questions and provide the knowledge you need to negotiate the state employee disciplinary process.
Our dedication to pursuing the best possible results for our clients in an array of employment matters is reflected in the many awards and honors our attorneys and firm have received. These include dozens of five-star client reviews, an AV Preeminent peer rating from Martindale-Hubbell, and a 10.0 Superb Avvo rating received by founding attorney Tiffany Cruz.
Reach out to Cruz Law for an initial claim evaluation with our Tallahassee employment lawyers to learn more about what to expect in a predetermination conference. We can guide you through the internal investigation and disciplinary process, standing by your side at every step and providing you with the advice and support you need to get through this trying time.
What Are Florida Predetermination Conferences?
In Florida, state employees have the right to request a predetermination conference. A predetermination conference is a meeting in which the employee can respond to disciplinary charges filed against them. The purpose of a predetermination conference is to avoid erroneous or arbitration disciplinary actions against employees; allow the state employer to reconsider the disciplinary charges after receiving the employee’s response and supporting information; or permit the employer to affirm or alter the proposed disciplinary action.
At a predetermination conference, an employee may refute or rebut the allegations supporting the disciplinary charges filed against them; explain the conduct that gave rise to the disciplinary charges; or argue why the proposed discipline is too severe.
Following the conference, an employer may move forward with the proposed disciplinary action; revise the discipline to be imposed; or withdraw the disciplinary charges against the employee. Further, employees may seek arbitration or union grievance procedures if their state employer chooses to move forward with discipline.
How to Prepare for a Predetermination Conference
The stakes are high when facing disciplinary action, and you should plan ahead. As you prepare for your predetermination conference, you should consider taking the following steps:
Stay calm. Even if you believe that the disciplinary charges are baseless, becoming frustrated over them may lead you to take reckless actions that could hurt your case in the long run.
Gather evidence relevant to your disciplinary charges. These include copies of any records or documents related to the alleged disciplinary violations, surveillance footage or photographs, emails and text messages, and social media posts.
Speak to any witnesses who can provide relevant testimony.
Do not delete, destroy, or alter any records or evidence that may be relevant to the disciplinary charges.
Review the notice of your disciplinary charges carefully to understand the nature of those charges and the specific factual allegations against you.
File a timely written request for a predetermination.
Ensure you receive notice of the predetermination conference’s date, time, and location.
Finally, hire a Tallahassee predetermination conference attorney from Cruz Law as soon as possible after receiving notice of disciplinary charges. That way, our firm can begin preparing a compelling case to defend you against the charges as quickly as possible.
What Does a Florida Predetermination Conference Involve?
After a supervisor files disciplinary charges against a state employee with permanent status, the employee must receive written notice that includes the following:
- The proposed disciplinary action to be taken, such as suspension, reduction in pay, or termination
- The effective date of the proposed action
- The specific disciplinary charges against the employee and the reasons or facts supporting the charges
- A list of other documents supporting the disciplinary charges
- A statement regarding the worker’s right to request a predetermination conference, which must be held before the proposed effective date of disciplinary action
At a predetermination conference, a state employee can present relevant information to contest or explain the allegations underpinning the disciplinary charges against them. The state agency employer can apply whatever weight it deems appropriate to the employee’s information and evidence. Although an employee may bring a legal representative to advise or assist, Florida predetermination conferences do not involve legal procedures like those in court cases or arbitrations such as discovery or cross-examination.
Predetermination conferences may take place in person or over a conference call. The conference should also be held electronically to ensure a complete and accurate record of the proceedings. The employee may receive a copy of the recording at their request.
At the beginning of the conference, the person or persons conducting it must identify the participants and explain the purpose of the conference. The employee will then be allowed to present any documents, information, or other relevant evidence or to provide an oral or written statement. Any participants may ask questions to clarify the employee’s statements and to ensure that the employee has been given a full opportunity to present all information they believe refutes, rebuts, or explains the disciplinary charges.
After the conference, the employee will receive notice of the results, which may involve:
- The proposed final disciplinary action and the date on which it will become effective
- A revision of the proposed final disciplinary action
- A withdrawal of the disciplinary charges, with no action occurring against the employee
If the state agency chooses to proceed with discipline, the employee must be notified of their right to appeal the decision to an arbitrator or to pursue grievance procedures if the employee occupies a unionized position.
Who May Attend a Predetermination Conference?
The parties who normally attend the predetermination conference include:
- A human resources manager, or the person or persons authorized to make the final determination on the employee’s discipline
- The employee’s supervisor or administrator who filed the disciplinary charges
- The employee
- The employee’s attorney or authorized representative
What Evidence Is Presented at a Predetermination Conference?
Potentially valuable evidence you can present at a predetermination conference to contest disciplinary charges or explain the underlying facts and circumstances include:
- Documents and records relating to the disciplinary charges, such as work product, timesheets, or performance reviews
- Relevant video or surveillance footage and photos
- Relevant emails, text messages, internal messaging system posts, or social media posts
- Written statements from witnesses
- Outside documents and records, such as independent drug testing results if accused of substance abuse policy violations
- Your own written statement or an oral statement you make at the predetermination conference
An experienced attorney can review your unique situation and determine in more detail the evidence that could be useful in your defense.
How an Attorney Can Help with Your Predetermination Conference
At Cruz Law, we are committed to helping workers in similar positions defend themselves and their livelihoods. We can help you advocate for your interests at a predetermination conference by:
- Investigating the disciplinary charges against you and helping you recover evidence you may submit in your defense at the predetermination conference.
- Speaking with witnesses who may have relevant testimony that can be recorded in a written statement.
- Going over what you can expect to happen at the predetermination conference and throughout the disciplinary process.
- Answering your questions about your legal rights and options and the potential outcomes of your disciplinary charges.
- Helping you prepare a written or oral statement to present at the conference.
- Assisting you during the predetermination conference, including helping you with your statement and ensuring that you present all the information and evidence you want your employer to consider.
- Confirming that you understand the meaning of the post-conference notice you receive.
- Explaining your available legal options, such as a settlement, if your employer decides to move forward with disciplinary action.
Remember, much is at stake and time is of the essence. The sooner you get in touch with us, the sooner we can dedicate the time and resources to your defense.
Need Help with a Predetermination Conference? Get in Touch With Us
Don’t leave the outcome of disciplinary proceedings to chance. Your state employment, reputation, and future may be at risk. You deserve to contest the allegations of misconduct you’re facing, and Cruz Law wants to help you fight to keep your job.
Our attorneys represent state agency and department workers in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and throughout the Florida Panhandle. We can tell you what to expect in a Florida predetermination conference, help you prepare a defense to disciplinary charges, and advocate on your behalf throughout the process.
Contact us today for a confidential consultation with a Tallahassee predetermination conference lawyer.