Government Code section 19994.1 provides that an appointing power may transfer any employee under its jurisdiction to another position in the same class or from one location to another whether in the same position or in a different position. Section 19994.3 provides that the transferred employee may protest to DPA that the transfer was made for the purpose of harassing or disciplining the employee, rather than for a legitimate business reason. If DPA finds that the transfer was made for the purpose of disciplining or harassing the employee, and not for a legitimate business reason, DPA has the authority to disapprove the transfer and return the employee to her former position. In Johnston v. Department of Personnel Administration (1987) 191 Cal.App.3d 1218, the court found that the right to file an appeal from involuntary transfer extends to an employee whose transfer is non-geographical and does not require her to change her residence.
Appellant was transferred pursuant to Section 19994.1. She did not change her residence. The sole issue to be addressed is whether or not appellant’s transfer was punitive in nature, or if it was the proper exercise of administrative discretion by the Regional Administrator.
Respondent’s claim that appellant’s transfer was for legitimate business reasons is supported by the record. It was undisputed that PCSD was implementing a new policy regarding parolees’ return to custody. It was undisputed that the West Bay District had a history that, for whatever reason, showed a pattern of high return to custody and that it had a well-known and well-developed relationship with law enforcement officials. It was also undisputed that appellant’s only experience in PCSD was in the West Bay District. These undisputed facts support the Regional Administrator’s testimony that at least one of her primary reasons for transferring appellant was to expose her to the more socially-oriented model she believed existed in the South Bay District.
The Regional Administrator’s testimony is also supported by her subsequent redistricting proposals which consistently assigned appellant to the core area in the South Bay. According to appellant’s own testimony, the initial redistricting proposals “mixed everything up” to the point that all the District Administrators would have been required to move from their core areas and travel longer distances to their new assignments. When the District Administrators redesigned the districts, appellant, like other District Administrators, kept some of her South Bay core area and received additional units. Although appellant may have preferred to work in the West Bay District, she was not the only District Administrator who did not get assigned to the exact district he/she preferred.
In addition, the Deputy Director credibly testified that other management employees both in PCSD Region IV and Region II had been involuntarily transferred based on administrative balancing of operational need.
Appellant’s argument that she was transferred in September 2003 instead of in January 2004 for purely punitive reasons was not supported by the evidence. PCSD management believed appellant was generally a good supervisor. She had received outstanding performance appraisals. Although, she was not specifically instructed to modify her management techniques, appellant was aware that PCSD had changed its parolee recidivism policy. At the August 13 meeting she was told that the Regional Administrator anticipated that by exposing her to different philosophies and personnel, appellant was expected to adjust her “attitude” and support the direction PCSD was going regarding parole violations. Whether valid or not, the Regional Administrator believed appellant and Region II’s efficiency would be enhanced by the transfer. While the situation in June and July 2003 clearly drew attention to appellant and demonstrated she may have had some personnel problems, the evidence shows that absent PCSD’s parole recidivism policy change and the Regional Administrator’s developing redistricting plan, appellant would not have been transferred at all.
A transfer is disciplinary in nature only if it is imposed for the purpose of punishment. (See White v. County of Sacramento (1982) 31 Cal.3d 676, 683.) Although appellant preferred to work in the West Bay District, there was no evidence that appellant was at all penalized or punished by being transferred to the South Bay District. There was no evidence that appellant’s September transfer entailed any financial loss. There was no reduction in pay or decrease in benefits. There was no evidence there was any decrease in responsibility or that it was a demotion. There was no written documentation of any of the activity that appellant alleges was the grounds for her disciplinary transfer. There was no disciplinary action of any type taken against appellant prior to or at the time the transfer occurred. In fact, when appellant complained that the commute to the South Bay District was “too hard,” the Regional Administrator adjusted the units appellant was responsible for so that the commute was more acceptable and more readily facilitated appellant’s child care needs. This was done within a couple of weeks of appellant’s September transfer.