City Has No Right To Request Tax Returns Of Police Officers, Firefighters

The City of Cleveland, Ohio had a residency requirement for its police officers and firefighters. Though a recently-enacted Ohio statute calls that residency requirement into question, for many years the City enforced the residency requirement through its disciplinary system. Ever since the residency requirement has been in effect, the City has directed municipal employees to […]

Detroit Not Allowed To Lay Off Firefighters

The Detroit Fire Fighters Association and the City of Detroit are parties to a collective bargaining agreement that expired on June 30, 2001. The City and the Association are currently in the interest arbitration process to determine the terms of the successor agreement. Responding to one of a series of budget crises, on July 1, […]

State Police Major Loses Defamation Lawsuit Against Police Union

John Burns was a major in the Massachusetts State Police. In 1995, Burns approached Trooper Kathleen Barrett to question her about court overtime and whether she was properly subpoenaed. Barrett called Dean Bennett, the vice-president of the State Police Association of Massachusetts, asked about the policy, and complained about the manner in which Burns had […]

Concern Over Possible Disruption In Police, Fire Departments Caused By Speech Can Be Basis For Firing Employees

In a widely-reported decision involving controversial facts, the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals has apparently substantially expanded the circumstances under which a public employer can discharge employees for engaging in off-duty speech. The case involved Officer Joseph Locurto of the New York Police Department, and Jonathan Walters and Robert Steiner, firefighters with the New […]

Omaha’s Affirmative Action Plan For Fire Department Ruled Discriminatory

In 1971, the City of Omaha, Nebraska instituted the first of a series of affirmative action plans for the Fire Department. The most recent plan, adopted in 2002, is consistent with the Office of Federal Contracting Compliance Program Guidelines on Affirmative Action Programs (Guidelines). The Guidelines, which are not binding on municipalities, specify that “availability” […]

Placement On Unpaid Leave Of Absence Requires Due Process

Antonio Giusto was a police officer with the City of San Mateo, California. In January 2003, Giusto filed a workers’ compensation claim on the basis of stress and depression following a non-disciplinary counseling session with his supervisor. As a result, the City placed Giusto on paid administrative leave pending a fitness-for-duty evaluation. Giusto was examined […]

Due Process Hearing Need Not Follow Evidentiary Rules

Captain Calvin Bankhead is a 25-year veteran of the Gary, Indiana Fire Department. In November 2001, Bankhead was selected for random drug testing. When Bankhead’s test results showed that he had consumed marijuana, the City’s Civil Service Commission demoted him, suspended him for nine months, and subjected him to additional random tests. Bankhead challenged the […]

Police Union Denied Access To Investigation Of Deputy Chief

In January 2005, an officer in the South Portland, Maine Police Department filed a complaint with the City’s director of human resources. In his complaint, the officer named the deputy police chief, alleging harassment, discrimination, and a hostile work environment. In response to the complaint, the director of human resources conducted an internal investigation. In […]

Mandatory Retirement Age For Police Upheld

Walter Mitchell, Louis Perunko, and David Mosby were police officers with the City of Gary, Indiana. When the officers were hired, a provision of the Indiana Code required that all police officers retire no later than their 65th birthday. In 1982, the City adopted an ordinance which also required that each member of the Gary […]

Black Police Chief Loses Race Discrimination Claim

Robert Herbert became the Police Chief for the City of Forest Hill, Texas in 1994. In 1998, seven months after giving Herbert a “glowing” performance evaluation, David Vestal, the City Manager, demoted Herbert to the position of sergeant. Herbert, who is African-American, responded with a race discrimination lawsuit. Herbert claimed that the City’s asserted reason […]

Fire Department Responded Adequately To Sexual Harassment Allegations

Shannon Moran is a female firefighter with the City of Detroit, Michigan. One night, Moran was assigned to “cot duty,” where she slept on a cot near a computer to monitor and alert the other firefighters of any calls for service. Moran was woken up by her direct supervisor, Sergeant Terry Tatum, when he inappropriately […]

Sergeant Loses ADA Lawsuit Against Sheriff’s Office

Randal Fornes was a sergeant with the Osceola County, Florida Sheriff’s Department. Fornes brought a lawsuit against the County, alleging that it violated the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) in its treatment of him. In order to be covered by the ADA, an employee must show that (1) he or she has a disability, (2) […]

Police Officer’s Testimony Before Grand Jury Not Protected By First Amendment

Earlier in 2006, in a case called Garcetti v. Ceballos, 126 S.Ct. 1951, the United States Supreme Court significantly reduced free speech protections given to public employees. In Garcetti, the Court held that when public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties, they are not speaking as “citizens” for purposes of the First Amendment, […]

FBI And Secret Service Can Ask Applicants Whether They Have Ever Committed Adultery

A group of unsuccessful applicants for jobs with the FBI and the Secret Service brought a federal court lawsuit attacking the agencies’ use of a polygraph examination in the pre-employment process. In particular, the applicants contended that the agencies violated their constitutional right to privacy because they asked them questions regarding their medical, psychological, sexual, […]

Gay Officer Wins $623K Discrimination Verdict

Michael Salvi went to work as a corrections officer for the Suffolk County, Massachusetts House of Correction in 1994. He did not inform his coworkers that he was gay, as he considered it to be a private matter. In late 1997, Salvi learned that rumors of his sexual orientation had been circulating in the workplace. […]

Oregon Allowed To Cut Retirement Benefits For Public Employee

For many years, participants in the Oregon Public Employment Retirement System (PERS) had their contributions to the fund directed to either a “regular” or “variable” account. Since 1975, the PERS statutory scheme provided that the earnings on the regular accounts “will be no less than the existing assumed earnings rate.” As time went by, the […]

Detectives’ Work Schedules Arbitrable

A number of detectives work for the York County, Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Office. The collective bargaining agreement between the York County Detectives Association and the County calls for a workweek consisting of five consecutive workdays “in a pre-established work schedule for a total of 40 hours per week.” When the District Attorney hired a new […]

Police Test Scores And Rankings Should Have Been Released To Media

The Times Leader is a daily newspaper in northeast Pennsylvania. In January 2005, the Times Leader sent a letter to the City of Hazleton requesting information regarding the names of police officer candidates on the City’s current Civil Service Commission list, their ranks, test scores, and the date the list went into effect. When the […]

Routine Discussion With Supervisor Not Covered By Bill Of Rights

Stephanie Steinert was a police officer for the Covina, California Police Department. Her name arose as part of a routine informal audit performed by the California Department of Justice, which monitors use of its criminal records databases. The Covina Police Department learned from the Department of Justice that Steinert had performed a records search on […]

City Required To Follow Competitive Examination Process For Police Chief

In the summer of 2004, the Fostoria, Ohio Civil Service Commission terminated the employment of former police chief Dennis Day for misconduct. Following the termination, the Commission conducted a competitive promotional examination for the chief’s position. Two captains within the Department took the examination, with one passing. That individual, Ronnie Hobbs, was promoted to Acting […]

Not Proper To Compare Part-Time Paramedics To Full-Time Firefighters

Union Township, Ohio has a full-time fire department that also employs part-time paramedics. In June 2003, the Fire Chief issued a memorandum that required all part-time employees to be certified as Firefighter IIs and EMTs in order to begin working. The memorandum had an effective date of September 2003. A group of women who were […]

Donning And Doffing And The Fair Labor Standards Act

One of the most-hotly-debated issues in public safety labor relations is whether the time spent by police officers putting on and removing uniforms and equipment must be compensated under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The “donning and doffing” controversy started with the Supreme Court’s decisions last October in consolidated cases involving workers in meat and […]