The SPB hearings also have major disadvantages: if you have a strong discrimination case and you lose your SPB hearing for whatever reason, that decision will be binding on any subsequent discrimination lawsuit, unless you set aside the adverse SPB decision through Writ of Mandate - a process which will significantly delay going straight to court and filing a discrimination lawsuit.
So, when should you appeal your termination through SPB first and when is it better to skip the SPB hearing and file a lawsuit in court? While there is no clear cut answer or a definitive rule to always know what's the best way to handle your situation, the following "classic" examples should provide you with a useful guideline:
* If your discipline or termination is not based on unlawful discrimination based on a protected classes, and it involves whether you were terminated for just case, or whether your termination was imposed fairly, then you should definitely appeal your dismissal through SPB, because you probably don't have a basis to sue in court anyway. You will have all the more reasons to to trough the SPB process is you are interested in keeping your job and being reinstated. The more witnesses you have that will support your side of the story, the more chances you have to prevail at the SPB hearing.
* If, on the other hand, you believe you have a strong discrimination case based on disability, race, etc... and especially if your termination involves a more complicated ADA issue, such as failure to provide reasonable accommodations, retaliation for asserting disability rights, etc.., you are better off skipping the SPB process and not risking forfeiting your rights to sue for wrongful termination based on discrimination in court becasue of the adverse SPB ruling.
For more information on public employee rights in California, please visit our Sacramento Labor and Employment Law Blog.