10 day deadline in Civil Service does not mean 240 hour deadline says 4th Court

Officer Robin Talley v. The City of Killeen, 03-09-00736-CV (Tex. App. –  Austin, November 20, 2013).

This is a civil service case where the San Antonio Court of Appeals was asked to determine if Killeen’s Rule .053(B)(1), providing that a disciplinary appeal such as Talley’s must be submitted within 240 consecutive hours of receipt of notice, is consistent with §143.010 of the Texas Local Government Code, which provides that the appeal must be filed “within 10 days.” The court determined the City’s Rule was inconsistent with state law.

The City provided written notice to Officer Talley that her employment as a Killeen police officer was suspended indefinitely. On the 10th day after receiving notice, Talley filed her appeal, but the City rejected the appeal noting that it was filed beyond the 240 hour mark (she missed by a few hours). Talley sued for declaratory relief asserting the City’s local rule was preempted.  The parties filed competing summary judgment motions and the trial court ruled for the City.  Talley appealed.

240 hours is ten days’ worth of hours, however, the court analyzed the statutory meaning of the word “day” and compared the Civil Service Act’s different references to “day” versus “hours” deadlines. As a result, the court held that the Legislative intent was to allow 10 days for an appeal, which deadline ends on the last full day, irrespective of the consecutive hours in between. The court also analyzed the phrase “after the date the action occurred” in holding the beginning of the clock runs after the day notice is received, not the hour upon which it is received.  The court reversed the trial court’s summary judgment for the City and remanded.

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