FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The Supreme Court of Georgia heard oral arguments last week on whether 11 laid-off Forsyth County deputies should have their appeal heard by the county's civil service board.
Eight of the 11 deputies, who were laid off in February of last year, were in court on April 7 during the arguments. Forsyth County Sheriff Duane Piper was not there.
The deputies claim this was a case of politically motivated retaliations and age discrimination. They want the county to hear their appeal to get their jobs back.
Ken Jarrard, the county attorney, argued in court that the matter was handled properly by Pat Carson, the county's personnel director.
"This cessation of employment was in the form of a layoff," Jarrard said. "The rules are extraordinarily clear that there is no appellate right with respect to a layoff."
Lance LoRusso, the attorney representing the laid-off deputies, said the civil service board is allowed to hear cases when employees have been fired by "improper methods."
In March 2013, the Forsyth County Civil Service Board chose not to consider hearing the case of 11 sheriff's deputies because they took place during a restructuring by Sheriff Duane Piper, who took office in January 2013.
Carson said last year that the reason the issue was not to be considered by civil service is because the layoffs were a "reduction in force."
Lt. Lisa Frady Selke had filed a petition in Forsyth County Superior Court to force Carson to forward their appeals to the civil service board. But in July, Superior Court Judge G. Grant Brantley sided with the county to dismiss the appeals. Selke and the other deputies appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule on this case later this year.