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Legal Insider: Fairfax County Government Disciplinary Actions

by John V. Berry August 10, 2015 at 11:00 am 3 Comments

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This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Reston Town Center that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement, and private sector employee matters.

The Fairfax County government has a policy to ensure that all its employees observe the standards of conduct, code of ethics, and other workplace rules. Department heads and supervisors must treat all employees in a fair and equitable manner, inform employees of rules governing conduct and discipline, and investigate and administer appropriate disciplinary action if necessary.

Disciplinary actions can range from warnings to dismissals. According to Fairfax County Personnel regulations, disciplinary action “will be taken only for good cause and after careful review of allegations with a goal, where appropriate, of correcting problem situation . . . and must be taken when warranted to promote the efficiency of the Fairfax County service.”

Investigation

When an employee commits an offense, the first step is for the department head or supervisor to investigate the alleged employee offense and obtain complete facts. Depending on the severity of the offense, the investigation may be detailed and conducted by a Fairfax County investigator or it can be short and conducted by the employee’s supervisor. The investigation may or may not include an interview of the employee.

Proposed Disciplinary Action

If the offense warrants a disciplinary action, a formal advance notice letter will be issued to the employee following the investigation. The letter will specify in sufficient detail the factual basis for the proposed disciplinary action, a listing of any previous offenses, and the employee’s right to respond, which is usually within five business days from receipt of the letter. The severity of the disciplinary action will be determined by the significance of the employee’s offense. Chapter 16 of the Fairfax County regulations provides the range of potential disciplinary actions for employees.

Decision

Following the employee’s response to the proposed disciplinary action, the department head will make a final decision on the issuance of the formal disciplinary actions of a suspension, dismissal, or demotion. If employees feel that they have been treated unfairly, they have a right to grieve the final decision if it results in a suspension, dismissal, or demotion. The grievance procedure is outlined in Chapter 17 of the Fairfax County regulations.

We represent Fairfax County government employees in labor and employment matters. If you need legal assistance, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.

  • Greg

    Seems that that at least one county employee who posts here and elsewhere, apparently on government time, may have violated the county code of ethics. To wit:

    Engaging in political activities, as defined in state law and County ordinance, while on duty, in uniform, or on the premises of their employment with the County.1
    Using their official authority to coerce or attempt to coerce a subordinate employee to pay, lend, or contribute anything of value to a political party, candidate, or campaign or to discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of that person’s political affiliations or participation in permitted political activities or failure to participate in political activities, whether permitted or not.2
    Discriminating in the provision of public services, including, but not limited to,
    firefighting, emergency medical, or law enforcement services, or responding to requests for such services, on the basis of the political affiliation or political activities of the person or organization for which such services are provided or requested.3
    Suggesting or implying that the County has officially endorsed a political party,
    candidate, or campaign

    • John Higgins

      Greg, I have not seen anything here that even approaches unethical conduct by a county employed, but maybe I’m simply obtuse. You can report such conduct on the Fraud Hotline (it’s voice mail) giving enough info for them to investigate. 703-787-3243

      • Greg

        Less of it here, more elsewhere, but we have what we need. I doubt it rises to the level of fraud (unless posting while working is fraud), but ethical violations appear and apparently indicate bias if not discrimination.

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