Under Ed. Code § 45298 a laid-off employee has a right to reemployment in preference to a new applicant regardless of the laid-off employee’s class, so long as the laidoff employee is qualified for the position.
In 1982, Plaintiff began his employment with the School District as a general maintenance worker and was promoted to maintenance supervisor. He left the District for several years, worked for another District and earned his MBA. When Plaintiff returned to the District in 1996, he held the position of director of maintenance and operations. He then assumed more responsibilities and his job title became director of operations, safety and special projects. Due to lack of work and/or funds, Plaintiff’s position was eliminated in April 2005, and he was laid off. That same month, Plaintiff applied for the position of maintenance manager, which according to the District was a position of a lower class. Although Tucker was qualified for the position, the District hired an individual who had never worked for the Districit. Plaintiff Petitioned the Court for a writ of mandate and declaratory relief, claiming that he had a right to reemployment preference over the new applicant. The District argued that Ed. Code § 45298 when read in conjunction with § 45308, provided preference for laid-off employees only within the class in which he was formerly employed.
The court held that Tucker had the right to reemployment preference over the new applicant in any job for which he applied and for which he was qualified. Section 45298 specifically describes the preferential rights of laidoff employees for rehire with respect to new applicants. And, § 45308, which explains the order in which employees in the same class must be laid off and rehired, does not limit reemployment rights under -45298 with respect to new applicants to a job only within a particular classification. Since Plaintiff was qualified for and applied for the maintenance manager position, he was entitled to preferential reemployment rights over new applicants.