Clayton Cty. Bd. of Comm'rs v. MurphyAnnotate this Case
The Clayton County Board of Commissioners and its individual members appeal from a writ of mandamus directing the County to give an unspecified job to Joseph Murphy, whom the County previously had employed as Assistant Director of its Department of Community Development. The Board contends, among other things, that the writ is premised on a misunderstanding and misapplication of the County's civil service rules and regulations. As Assistant Director, Murphy was responsible for building inspections to ensure compliance with the County housing code. On the side, Murphy owned a business that did electrical work, and the County had warned him not to inspect any work that his business had done. In 2007, the Director of Community Development terminated Murphy for failing to heed the warning. Murphy appealed his firing to the Civil Service Board ("CSB"), which found that the termination was not supported by sufficient cause, as required by the County's civil service rules. The CSB ordered that Murphy be reinstated, and the County appealed. In the meantime, the Board implemented a reduction in force, which led to the elimination of several positions, including that of Assistant Director. The superior court then dismissed the County's appeal from the reinstatement order, and the County offered Murphy back pay for the period between his termination and the reduction in force. Murphy declined this offer, however, and demanded a job with the County. When he was refused re-employment, Murphy filed a petition for a writ of mandamus to compel the County to offer him employment. The Supreme Court reversed the grant of mandamus relief, finding that Murphy did not have a clear legal right to require the Board to recreate the position of Assistant Director under either Rule 9.204 (which was the Rule raised before the trial court) or Rule 11.310 (as advanced by Murphy on appeal): "While there may have been available jobs 'of the nature' of Murphy's job as Assistant Director, we see nothing in the record establishing that an available job was sufficiently similar to Murphy's prior job as to provide him with a 'clear legal right' to that job. And because the grant of a writ of mandamus requires the petitioner to establish a clear legal right, the trial court erred when it granted the writ."