In 1979, the Cleveland Board of Education hired James Loudermill as a security guard. On his job application, Loudermill stated he had never been convicted of a felony, despite a conviction of grand larceny in 1968. In 1980, during a routine examination of employee records, the Board discovered Loudermill’s felony charge and dismissed him for dishonesty in filling out the job application. The Board did not grant Loudermill an opportunity to respond to or challenge the dismissal, despite an Ohio statute that granted civil service employees the right to obtain an administrative review if dismissed. Loudermill filed a complaint with the Ohio Civil Service Commission in November 1980. The commission upheld the Board of Education’s dismissal after taking nine months to respond. The U. S. District Court dismissed the case based on Loudermill’s failure to adequately present his claim and Loudermill appealed.

A case involving a second respondent, Richard Donnelly, a school bus mechanic in Parma who was fired in August of 1977 after failing an eye exam, was consolidated with Loudermill’s case in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Like Loudermill, Donnelly filed a complaint after the Parma Board of Education failed to provide him with an opportunity to respond to his dismissal. The Court of Appeals found both Loudermill and Donnelly had been denied due process, specifically, their property rights. The Supreme Court ruled that Due process 'requires some kind of a hearing’ prior to the discharge of a public employee who has a constitutionally protected property interest in his employment.

Gordon Beggs, Stephen Gard, Edward Stege, and Charles Simms filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Cleveland Chapter of the ACLU. The National ACLU also filed an amicus brief. The Supreme Court agreed with the ACLU’s contention that a government employee is entitled to written specification of misconduct charges and an opportunity to respond prior to termination. However, the court did not agree with the ACLU’s second contention — that the nine-month delay of Loudermill’s post-termination appeal deprived him of due process.

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Date filed

November 1, 1980