Monroe Forced To Rehire Firefighters In Union-Busting Case

MONROE, NJ – Fire District 1 in this township has been ordered to rehire firefighters who were fired several years ago in an apparent retaliatory move by the district’s elected Board of Fire Commissioners. An appellate court panel last Tuesday upheld the state Public Employment Relations Commission’s ruling against the fire district, which PERC said […]

Massachusetts Ends Mandatory Physicals For Firefighters Returning From Layoff

FALL RIVER, MA – A new policy to drug test and require a physical exam for returning firefighters laid-off due to budget cuts is unlawful, according to a recently released opinion by the state Civil Service Commission “Not only is it against the law, but it’s adding insult to injury,” said firefighters’ Union President Jason […]

Presumption That Prostate Cancer Caused By Job Rebutted By Employer

James Haskins began working as a full-time firefighter for the Kern County, California Fire Department in 1978. During his employment, he worked as a firefighter, engineer, and captain. Based on log books, Haskins estimated he responded to over 3,000 calls during his 33-year tenure with the County. The calls consisted of approximately 1,411 false alarms, […]

Comments About Gays Not Protected Speech

Loudesia Flanagan was a records specialist for the Richmond, California Police Department. Over her tenure, Flanagan received numerous positive performance evaluations, but her career was also marked by disciplinary actions and complaints. On September 16, 2004, December 27, 2004, and January 5, 2005, Flanagan received separate reprimands for leaving work without permission, failing to follow […]

The Difficulty Police Have In Suing For Defamation

Public safety employees, particularly law enforcement officers, face almost insurmountable obstacles in suing for defamation of character. Various court-created rules, including the “opinion” and “public official” rules, routinely block lawsuits from ever getting to a jury. Precisely such a thing recently happened in the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Officer Sam Cromity works for the Louisville […]

Complaint About Chief’s Affairs Not Protected Speech

As a recent New Jersey case shows, the Garcetti rule marches on and is alive and well. In Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006), the Supreme Court held that if a public employee engages in speech (e.g., writes or says something) as part of the job, the First Amendment gives the employee no protection, […]

Even False Statements By Union May Be Protected

It’s not a public safety case, but a recent decision from the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board has an important lesson for public safety employers and labor organizations. The case involved the Moraine Valley Community College, which terminated Robin Meade for making untruthful statements. Meade was the president of the local teacher’s union. On August […]

Court Rejects FOIA Requests For Race, Gender Of Supervisors With IA Complaints

In November 2008, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) submitted 20 separate Freedom Of Information Act requests to the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) for documents generated in connection with internal disciplinary proceedings against officers of specified upper ranks for particular offenses in particular years. For example, one request sought all documents regarding any […]

Who Is A ‘Comparator’ For Discrimination Purposes?

Edward Voccola, who is Caucasian, sued the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut, for race discrimination after he was terminated from his job as a firefighter. Voccola’s troubles began on September 5, 2010, when the Shelton Police began investigating an incident involving Voccola. Voccola’s neighbors, who had ongoing problems with Voccola based on their belief that he […]

‘Classic Stray Remark’ Cannot Support Discrimination Claim

There is a definite disconnect between the perception of sexual harassment law and what the current state of the law actually is. Many believe that overtly racist or sexist workplace comments easily support Title VII harassment claims. Owing to a number of Supreme Court decisions narrowing the law considerably, that belief is rarely accurate. A […]

Bill Of Rights Does Not Apply To Independent DA Investigation

Sergeant Mark Lopez was the chairman and president of the Scotts Valley Police Officers Association Charitable Foundation. A fellow officer, Dave Ball, was also on the board of the SVPOA. The SVPOA ran an annual fundraiser called “Cops and Rodders,” which raised funds to be distributed to local organizations and schools upon request. The funds […]

Major Brady Case From Texas

Stephanie Brown is an officer with the Georgetown, Texas Police Department. In January 2013, Brown was investigated by the Department because Eric Poteet, with whom Brown had formerly been in a relationship, alleged that Brown had been taking his prescription medication and had ingested mescaline. As a result of this investigation, Wayne Nero, the Georgetown […]

Court Upholds Arbitrator’s Decision Reinstating Supervisors In Cleveland Pursuit Case

On November 29, 2012, Cleveland police made a traffic stop on a vehicle driven by Timothy Russell and occupied by Malissa Williams. When Officer John Jordan approached the vehicle, it fled west on Superior Avenue, prompting Jordan to pursue the vehicle. Jordan, however, ultimately stopped the chase after he lost sight of the vehicle. Jordan […]

False Positives Do Not Make Hair Tests Discriminatory

The challenges to the hair drug test used by the Boston Police Department took a curious turn with a decision from a federal court in Massachusetts. The case involved a racial discrimination claim brought by ten black officers against the Department challenging the constitutionality of the hair drug test administered by the Department to officers […]

Court Upholds Arbitrator’s Decision Allowing Officer To Work In Bar

The Township of Wilkins, Pennsylvania is party to a collective bargaining agreement with the Wage Policy Committee of the Wilkins Police Department for collective bargaining purposes. A clause in the collective bargaining agreement deals with the ability of officers to engage in off-duty work. Officer Jon Sherman is a member of the Committee’s bargaining unit. […]

Defective Payroll System Failures No Defense To FLSA Violation

A group of deputy sheriffs for the Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania Sheriff’s Department sued the County alleging that they had worked overtime for which they had not been compensated. In the lawsuit, the County admitted that the deputies had worked the uncompensated hours, but argued that it owed no overtime because it had no contemporaneous knowledge […]

Police Shooting Report Mostly Subject To Public Records Disclosure

On March 24, 2012, just after 11:00 p.m., two officers with the Pasadena, California Police Department responded to a 911 call. The caller claimed to have been robbed at gunpoint by two men. Much later, the caller admitted he had falsely reported that the robbers were armed. Responding to the dispatch broadcast, the officers proceeded […]

Giving Aid Is A ‘High-Risk’ Activity For Corrections Officer

Employees of the Douglas County, Nebraska Department of Corrections are covered by a collective bargaining agreement that provides for enhanced “Injured On Duty” (IOD) benefits for employees performing a high-risk duty. The CBA defines the phrase “high-risk duty” as including (1) responding to a Code, and (2) interaction with an inmate while that inmate is […]

No FLSA Compensation For Firefighters Picking Up Safety Gear From Home Station

Firefighters working for the Menlo Park, California Fire District are issued two sets of turnout pants and coats, made of fire-resistant fabric with reinforced cuffs and reflective stripes, and two bags to store them, so that one is always available while the other set is being laundered. The District issues only one set of the […]

How The Two-Part Test For Garrity Applies To Field Interviews

Courts rarely change their minds in the middle of a case. But so it was in the criminal prosecution of New York City corrections officer Gregory Grabowski, who had been indicted for assault in the third degree, offering a false instrument for filing in the first and second degree, falsifying business records in the first […]

Firefighter Staffing: What’s Negotiable?

The City of Allentown, Pennsylvania and the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 302 were parties to a collective bargaining agreement set to expire in December 2011. The CBA provided that the City Fire Department was required to have 140 sworn personnel with an on-duty shift strength of no less than 28 firefighters. When negotiations […]