The Georgia Court of Appeals recently confirmed that employees who voluntarily retire from employment with the school district waive their rights under the Fair Dismissal Act.

In the underlying case, a school district employee petitioned the superior court for a writ of mandamus to compel the superintendent to hold a due process hearing regarding the non-renewal of the employee’s contract. The superintendent moved to dismiss the case on the basis that the employee had voluntarily retired from employment and was thus not eligible for a due process hearing under the Fair Dismissal Act. The lower court agreed with the superintendent and dismissed the case. The Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed this ruling.

The Court of Appeals found that while the employee had timely submitted a request for a due process hearing to contest the non-renewal of his employment contract, the employee subsequently applied for retirement with TRS and thus waived his right to a due process hearing. The Court of Appeals was not persuaded by the employee’s argument that he was effectively terminated by the school district when his previous employment contract ended. The employee further argued that he should be entitled to collect retirement benefits as he awaited the outcome of his due process hearing. The Court of Appeals found that while the employee was no longer under contract with the school district when his previous employment contract ended, the absence of a new contract did not equate to a termination by the school district. Instead, the employee retained the right to challenge the non-renewal recommendation. When the employee applied for retirement with TRS and affirmatively elected to retire with the school district through its online portal, he waived his rights under the Fair Dismissal Act. Thus, the Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the employee’s case petitioning for a writ of mandamus against the superintendent.