City of Laredo and City of Laredo Municipal Civil Service Commission v. Tony H. Moreno, 04-21-00413-CV, (Tex. App – San Antonio, Aug. 24, 2022)
This is a civil service appeal where the Fourth Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of the City’s plea to the jurisdiction.
Moreno was the City of Laredo’s Water Treatment Superintendent. He was terminated after the City had to issue boiled water notices due to low chlorine levels being detected. The City charter provides such employees with certain civil service protections. Moreno was terminated and appealed to the civil service commission, which affirmed the termination. Moreno filed suit. The City filed a plea to the jurisdiction, which was denied. The City appealed.
When an administrative body’s decision adversely affects a vested property right or a constitutional right, an inherent right of appeal exists. Civil service employees have a vested property interest in their continued employment. Civil service protection provided in a charter provision does not fall under the same civil service process used for police and fire employees. Here, the Commission’s rules lack a specific provision outlining an employee’s right to judicial appeal. Moreno asserts the City failed to provide him with a termination letter stating the specific violations as required by the rules of why he was terminated, thereby denying him due process. Since this was only at the plea to the jurisdiction stage, the court held Moreno plead sufficient facts to trigger a waiver of immunity under the due process clause.