FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A proposed rule change would require Fresno County employees who run for public office to take between four and six weeks of unpaid leave or accumulated leave before an election - though it would not apply to currently elected officials.
But Fresno Mayoral candidate Andrew Janz, who is also a Fresno County Deputy District Attorney, called the plan illegal.
Janz explained, "Labor code section 1103 makes this conduct by the Board of Supervisors a crime. An employer cannot force an employee to go unpaid. If they do that for political purposes, that is a crime."
In a cease and desist letter the Fresno mayoral candidate sent to Fresno County supervisors, Janz said the proposal would prevent county workers from running for office.
But Fresno County supervisor Buddy Mendes said, "We're kind of disappointed in the immaturity in some of the letters, the inaccuracies of some of the letters."
Mendes said the proposal aims to establish the same set of rules for all department heads. He added, "This policy had some unpaid leave. Everybody else in government, especially in the federal government, has to prepare before they run for office so they have to be able to take actually six weeks off work."
The county proposal would require three pay periods, or a month and a half of unpaid or accumulated leave before a general election.
Janz said, "What this proposal also does is take away my family's healthcare insurance which I think is pretty significant given the fact my wife is currently pregnant."
Janz believed the proposal specifically targets his candidacy for mayor but Mendes disagreed. He countered, "We've been working on this for almost a year now so this is not targeted at anybody."
Janz added, "The county needs to make it an optional leave. If an employee wants to do it, they can take an optional leave of absence."
The proposal was expected to go before county supervisors next month.
If it is approved, Janz says he will file a lawsuit over the issue.
Andrew Janz threatens suit over proposed rule change by Fresno County supervisors
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