First Thursday, May 2014

Featured in this month’s podcast: Supreme Court upholds Michigan’s ban on race and gender preferences in employment, education Retired police firefighters reach deal with Detroit Two important California PERB decisions Privacy for personal email and cell phone records of public officials Yet another Brady case (Yay!) Download the podcast (Use this link to listen on […]

Driving Apparatus Not Necessarily Essential Function For Firefighter

Anthony Rorrer worked as a firefighter for the City of Stow, Ohio from May of 1999 until July of 2008. On July 4, 2008, Rorrer injured his right eye in a bottle-rocket accident unrelated to his work as a firefighter, losing all vision in his right eye as a result. Rorrer’s surgeon later cleared Rorrer […]

Transfer Denial Cannot Support Discrimination Claim

For many discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the employee must show that he/she was the subject of an “adverse employment action.” Roughly speaking, an adverse employment action amounts to some quantitative or qualitative change in the terms or conditions of his employment or some sort of real harm. A federal […]

Officers’ Personnel Files Discoverable In Discrimination Litigation

Christopher Barella, a white police officer working for the Village of Freeport, New York, sued the Village claiming that the Village’s hiring and promotional processes discriminated on the basis of race. In the course of the litigation, Barella sought disclosure of the personnel files of 24 employees who worked in City departments other than the […]

LAFD Dispatchers, Aeromedical Technicians Not Firefighters For FLSA Purposes

A group of dispatchers and aeromedical technicians working for the Los Angeles Fire Department sued the City, claiming they were wrongly treated as “fire protection personnel” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The distinction is a huge one. Instead of being subject to the FLSA’s 40-hour-per-week overtime standard, “fire protection personnel” are covered by […]

California Bill Of Rights Claims Can Be Arbitrated

In June 2005, the City of Santa Rosa, California hired James Mitchel as a police captain. Beginning in 2007, various subordinate officers filed gender discrimination complaints against Mitchel and Police Chief Edwin Flint. In February 2008, the City informed Mitchel it had initiated an internal affairs investigation. Mitchel and the complainants were interviewed and an […]

Discipline Not Negotiable For Denver Firefighters

Until 2013, there was no statewide law in Colorado calling for collective bargaining for firefighters. However, many years ago the City and County of Denver adopted a charter provision calling for bargaining with employees, and Local 858 of the International Association of Fire Fighters and Denver have had a long bargaining relationship. In 2010, the […]

Gender Stereotyping Can Be Basis For Lawsuit

As things currently stand in a volatile area of the law, sexual orientation is not protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. However, any number of courts have held that “gender stereotyping” is prohibited by Title VII, and the two concepts often overlap. A good case in point involves a Title VII lawsuit […]

Privacy For Personal Email And Cell Phone Records Of Public Officials

The California Court of Appeals recently issued a significant decision on whether records of communications by public officials on private email and cell phone accounts are considered to be “public records” subject to disclosure. The case involved a citizen named Ted Smith, who requested that the City of San Jose produce “any and all voicemails, […]

USERRA Does Not Prohibit Proration Of Longevity Pay

Robert DeLee is a Plymouth, Indiana police officer who is also a reserve officer in the Air Force. DeLee was called up for eight months’ active-duty deployment from September 1, 2010 to May 11, 2011. The City pays longevity premiums to officers with at least three years of service. At the time of his reserve […]

Required Retirement Contributions After Contract Expiration Do Not Violate ‘Contracts Clause’

In 2010, at the suggestion of newly-elected Governor Chris Christie, the New Jersey Legislature enacted a number of reductions to the retirement benefits provided firefighters and law enforcement officers. One of the changes altered the definition of “final compensation” used in calculating retirement benefits for persons who became members of the Police and Fireman’s Retirement […]

Supreme Court Upholds Michigan’s Ban On Race And Gender Preferences In Employment, Education

The United States Supreme Court continues to whittle around the edge of the basic constitutional question concerning affirmative action programs – do the equal protection guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment allow or prohibit affirmative action programs that explicitly rely on race or gender? Though it would seem that five (Roberts, Kennedy, Alito, Scalia, and Thomas) […]

Arbitrators Orders Removal Of Manning Clause From Firefighter Contract

MANSFIELD, OH &#8211 The long-standing clause in the city of Mansfield firefighters’ contract that mandates a minimum level of daily staffing has been eliminated, after a conciliator decided in the favor of the city. Conciliator Margaret Nancy Johnson issued binding rulings Friday on several disputed areas in which the city and the International Association of […]