What is the difference between “due process” and “just cause?”

Employees can be entitled to two forms of discipline rights.

All public employees are entitled to due process under federal law. When discipline occurs, due process provides an employee with the right to a fair procedure. Before an employee can be disciplined, an employer must take certain steps to fulfill this requirement. The district needs to schedule a meeting with the employee when discipline may be implemented. At the meeting, the district has to provide the employee with the charges against him or her and allow the employee to respond. After the meeting the district will notify the employee of the discipline that has been decided. 

Just cause is not provided by law and is only applied if it has been added to the collective bargaining agreement. If an employee has just cause rights then all due process protections apply as well. Just cause can include up to seven elements – the most important element is determining if the discipline is fair and appropriate. Unlike due process, discipline under just cause requires the district to be able to prove all elements of the case in determining if the “punishment fits the crime.” Make sure to review your district policy and collective bargaining agreement for other discipline and union representation procedures.

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