(a) An employee shall have the right to appeal any disciplinary action taken against him or her, provided, however, that an employee on probationary status shall have no such right unless such employee shall have had permanent status in some other position at the time he or she was appointed to his or her present position. An employee desiring to appeal any disciplinary action directed against him or her shall first exhaust all administrative remedy as provided by policy of the commission. Upon exhausting all administrative remedy, the employee shall then file his or her grievance in writing with the commission within seven calendar days of the last final administrative action on his or her grievance, and shall request a hearing before the personnel board. Within seven calendar days after the receipt of the grievance, the commission shall file with the chair of the board and mail to the employee by certified mail a statement specifying the charges against such employee on which the disciplinary action was based. Upon the filing of such charges, the chair shall call a meeting of the board to be held within 30 days after the filing of such charges to hear such grievance, and shall forthwith give notice by certified mail to the employee and the commission of the time and place of such meeting. The board shall have the authority to continue the hearing from time to time as may be necessary. In preparing for and conducting such hearing, the chair and secretary of the board shall each have the power to administer oaths, to subpoena, and require the attendance of witnesses and the production of books, documents, and accounts pertaining to the grievance.
(b) Subpoenas issued as herein provided shall be served and the fees and allowances for the services thereof shall be the same as is provided by law for the service of subpoena issued by the Circuit Court of Cullman County, Alabama. Fees and allowances in connection with the service of such subpoena issued at the request of the commission upon request of the board shall constitute reasonable and necessary expenses of the board. Any subpoena issued at the request of the employee shall be served as aforesaid, but only after such employee shall have deposited sufficient security with the sheriff or other recognized officer as will guarantee payment of such fees and allowances for such service. Any person failing to obey any summons by either of the officers of the board without good cause, to be determined by the Circuit Court of Cullman County, Alabama, may be punished by the court in the same method and manner as is provided by law for contempt of court, and any person failing to obey any such order or subpoena of the court, may be proceeded against by the court as is by law provided in the case of contempt of such court. In addition, any employee of the county who fails to obey any of such orders or subpoenas may be disciplined as provided in Section 45-22-120.09.
(c) At the hearing before the board, the employee and his or her department head or supervisor shall each have the right to be represented by counsel, with the county authorized to employ legal counsel to represent the interest of the county. Such hearing shall be governed by rules of practice and procedure as shall be adopted by the board, and in conducting such hearing, the board shall not be bound by the technical rules of evidence. No informality of procedure in the conduct of such hearing shall invalidate any recommendation made by the board. At the conclusion of the hearing, and within five working days therefrom, the board shall recommend to the commission one of the following:
(1) That the disciplinary action taken against the employee be affirmed.
(2) That the disciplinary action be reversed and that the employee be reinstated with full back pay at the normal rate of pay that would have been in effect for the employee had he or she not been suspended without pay.
(3) That the disciplinary action be reduced and that the employee be reinstated either without or with pay for any time he or she was suspended without pay.
Such recommendation shall be in writing to the chair of the commission, and the commission shall act upon such recommendation at its next regular or special called meeting, with such action becoming a matter of its official and public records. Such action of the commission shall exhaust the employee's private remedy, and any further recourse shall be through the appropriate courts as provided by laws of the State of Alabama.
(Act 79-574, p. 1022; Act 80-549, p. 851, §11.)