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Cleveland Bd. of Educ. v. Loudermill

Supreme Court of the United States

December 3, 1984, Argued ; March 19, 1985, Decided 1

No. 83-1362

Opinion

 [*535]  [***499]  [**1489]    JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

 In these cases we consider what pretermination process must be accorded a public employee who can be discharged only for cause.

In 1979 the Cleveland Board of Education, petitioner in No. 83-1362, hired respondent James Loudermill as a security guard. On his job application, Loudermill stated that he had never been convicted of a felony. Eleven months later, as part of a routine examination of his employment records, the Board discovered that in fact Loudermill had been convicted of grand larceny in 1968. By letter dated November 3, 1980, the Board's Business Manager informed Loudermill that he had been dismissed because of [****7]  his dishonesty in filling out the employment application. Loudermill was not afforded an opportunity to respond to the charge of dishonesty or to  [**1490]  challenge his dismissal. On November 13, the Board adopted a resolution officially approving the discharge.

Under Ohio law, Loudermill was a "classified ] civil servant." Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 124.11 (1984). Such employees can be terminated only for cause, and may obtain administrative review if discharged. § 124.34. Pursuant to this provision, Loudermill filed an appeal with the Cleveland Civil Service Commission on November 12. The Commission appointed a referee, who held a hearing on January 29, 1981. Loudermill argued that he had thought that his 1968 larceny conviction was for a misdemeanor rather than a felony. The referee recommended reinstatement. On July 20, 1981, the  [*536]  full Commission heard argument and orally announced that it would uphold the dismissal. Proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law followed on August 10, and Loudermill's attorneys were advised of the result by mail on August 21.

 [***500]  Although the Commission's decision was subject to judicial review in the state courts, Loudermill [****8]  instead brought the present suit in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. The complaint alleged that § 124.34 was unconstitutional on its face because it did not provide the employee an opportunity to respond to the charges against him prior to removal. As a result, discharged employees were deprived of liberty and property without due process. The complaint also alleged that the provision was unconstitutional as applied because discharged employees were not given sufficiently prompt postremoval hearings.

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470 U.S. 532 *; 105 S. Ct. 1487 **; 84 L. Ed. 2d 494 ***; 1985 U.S. LEXIS 68 ****; 53 U.S.L.W. 4306; 118 L.R.R.M. 3041; 1 I.E.R. Cas. (BNA) 424

CLEVELAND BOARD OF EDUCATION v. LOUDERMILL ET AL.

Prior History:  [****1]  CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT.

Disposition:  721 F.2d 550, affirmed and remanded.

CORE TERMS

termination, cases, deprivation, wages, pretermination, Appeals, due process, proceedings, employees, removal, opportunity to respond, post-termination, disputes, reinstatement, conferred, tenure, property interest, public employee, discharged, reasons, notice, final decision, entitlement, hearings, charges, interim, wait, constitutional violation, substantial rights, wrongful discharge

Civil Procedure, Judicial Officers, References, Governments, State & Territorial Governments, Employees & Officials, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection, Substantive Due Process, Scope, General Overview, Administrative Law, Hearings, Right to Hearing, Formal Adjudicatory Procedure, Business & Corporate Compliance, Enforcement, Duties & Liabilities of Parties, Forgery, Fraud & Mistake, Due Process