Jessica Rademakers was a detective with the Lee County, Florida Sheriff’s Department. In May 2006, Rademakers attended a retirement party for a lieutenant. A captain complained that Rademakers had rubbed her breasts against another captain and had engaged in other “inappropriate physical contact” with the captain and a lieutenant. An internal investigation ensued.
The investigation concluded that Rademakers had committed both conduct unbecoming an officer and insubordination by being untruthful during the investigation. The report contained synopses of statements by 15 witnesses that Rademakers, the captain and the lieutenant had “rubbed up against each other, touched each other on the legs, performed ‘lap dances’ for each other,” and committed acts “with sexual overtones.” The report stated that Rademakers had failed her polygraph examination. After Rademakers received notice of the report and of the likelihood that she would be terminated, she resigned.
Rademakers later sued the County, contending that her resignation was really a “constructive discharge,” and that she was compelled to resign. A federal court thought otherwise, and rejected her lawsuit.
The Court observed that “a resignation is presumed voluntary unless an employee comes forward with sufficient evidence to establish that the resignation was involuntarily extracted. The Sheriff did not coerce Rademakers to resign. Rademakers knew of the investigation months before she decided to resign and of the specific allegations of misconduct. Rademakers chose to resign to avoid a blemish on her employment record, and that choice was made with the assistance of counsel and a union representative. Rademakers argues that the Sheriff lacked good cause to believe there were grounds for termination, but the investigation report documented statements of 15 witnesses who observed Rademakers engage in sexually inappropriate behavior. Rademakers also argues that the investigation was undertaken in bad faith, but the investigators collected both inculpatory and exculpatory evidence and found the incriminating evidence more persuasive. Because Rademakers resigned of her own free will even though prompted to do so by events set in motion by her employer, she relinquished her liberty interest voluntarily and thus cannot establish that the Sheriff deprived her of it within the meaning of the due process clause.”
Rademakers v. Scott, 2009 WL 3448848 (11th Cir. 2009).
This article appears in the February 2010 issue