The term Loudermill Rights refers to those due process requirements that are followed when a tenured public employee is involuntarily terminated. Loudermill Rights are based on a U.S. Supreme Court decision: Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill (1985).
Tenured public employees were granted Loudermill Rights following a Supreme Court decision, which determined that most public employees have a property interest in their job. For this reason, they are afforded due process rights before removing or impacting their property interest in their job. This “property right” means non-probationary public employees can only be terminated for cause. They may also be entitled to certain rights in cases of severe discipline.
Generally, the following steps are followed when a tenured public employee is involuntarily terminated:
- Loudermill Letter: employees are entitled to proper notice, indicating why they are being fired as well as any specific evidence supporting the employer’s decision to terminate the employee. The letter will also inform the employee of their right to a hearing.
- Pre-Termination Hearing: also referred to as a Loudermill Hearing, this is a relatively informal meeting that provides an opportunity to determine if there are reasonable grounds to terminate after the employee addresses the evidence of the case. Individuals attending this meeting typically include the employee, their direct supervisor, a member of the human resources department, and a union representative.
- Post-Termination Hearing: if the employee is subsequently terminated, they are entitled to a full evidentiary hearing. The purpose of this meeting is to verify the facts presented against the employee, and whether or not the involuntary termination is justified.
Note: If the employee does not attend the pre-termination hearing, the employer can still proceed with termination.