Q & A

From North Dakota Question: Can an employee be compelled to use earned compensatory time before other forms of leave are utilized or within a specific date range (i.e. within pay cycle; within 14 days of earning)? Answer: In a non-union environment, the FLSA gives the employer the authority to force the employee to use comp […]

Incident Reports May Not (Or May) Be Protected By Garrity

Michael Smith was a lieutenant at the Ventress Correctional Facility in Alabama. Though built for 650 inmates, Ventress housed over 1,600 prisoners. On August 4, 2010, an inmate by the name of Rocrast Mack got into a physical altercation with Officer Melissa Brown after she found him masturbating in his bunk in what is known […]

Employer Required To Bargain Over Providing Coffee

As a gesture of goodwill during a period of high mandatory overtime in 2007, King County, Washington began providing coffee to its correctional employees in the Juvenile Detention Center, the King County Correctional Facility, and the Maleng Regional Justice Center. The County provided coffee in the break room at the Juvenile Detention Center and in […]

The EEOC, The ADA, And Leave

On May 9, 2016, the EEOC published a “document seeking to provide general information to employers and employees regarding when and how leave must be granted for reasons related to an employee’s disability.” The document largely restates existing law, but in some respects calls for a reexamination of the leave policies in public safety agencies. […]

Arbitrator Can Consider Unfunded Pension Obligation In Deciding Sick Leave Issue

Local 49 of the International Association of Fire Fighters represents firefighters working for the City of Bloomington, Illinois. Since 1992, the parties’ various collective bargaining agreements included a sick leave “buy-back” provision, pursuant to which the City would compensate retiring firefighters for unused sick leave time. The 2009 to 2012 contract allowed Union members to […]

Statute Of Limitations Trips Up New Orleans In Police Discipline Case

Jamal Kendrick was a New Orleans police officer. On August 6, 2012, Kendrick, who was driving a one-man police vehicle, stopped a suspect, Tony Gaines, for a traffic violation. Kendrick discovered that Gaines had an outstanding arrest warrant for domestic abuse battery. Kendrick arrested Gaines for the outstanding warrant. During the arrest, Kendrick discovered that […]

Arbitrator Should Decide Whether Discipline Grievance Is Arbitrable

The Village of Bartonville, Illinois and Policemen’s Benevolent Labor Committee are parties to a collective bargaining agreement. The Village terminated Officer Salvador Lopez for violating Police Department procedures in July 2014 when he allegedly drew his firearm during a traffic stop and pointed it at the motorist involved, without proper grounds for doing so. The […]

Intention To Run Against Sheriff Protected By First Amendment

The Kane County, Illinois Sheriff’s Office hired Steven Yahnke in 1986, and he worked as a deputy sheriff for more than 20 years, eventually holding the rank of sergeant. The position of sheriff is an elected post in Kane County, and in 2006, then-Sheriff Kenneth Ramsey opted to retire rather than run for reelection. Deputy […]

Deeply Divided Illinois Supreme Court Overturns Rule Shielding Fire, Police

Virtually all states have adopted the “public duty” rule. Under the rule, governments and their employees owe no duty of care to individual members of the general public to provide governmental services such as police and fire protection services. The rule effectively prohibits lawsuits against public safety agencies for failure to respond, or failure to […]

No-Confidence Votes A Risky Proposition In Non-Union States

Under the rule in Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006), the First Amendment only protects the speech of public employees if they “speak as a citizen on a matter of public concern.” In a union environment, there is little question but that a no-confidence vote on the performance of a chief is protected speech, […]

New FLSA Exemption Rules Are Finally Announced

On May 18, 2016, the Department of Labor finalized regulations governing who is exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), modifying the weekly salary and annual compensation threshold levels for white collar exemptions to FLSA overtime requirements. The new regulations are effective December 1, 2016. The FLSA has three major exemptions from […]

Body-Worn Cameras And Bargaining

The first cases in the country are coming in on the fundamental question of whether employers are required to bargain over the implementation of body-worn camera (BWC) systems. The first two decisions on the issue have now found significant aspects of the policies negotiable. The first case produced two separate decisions from “Permanent Umpire” Ira […]

Employer Has Right To Investigate Threats Made At Firefighters’ Union Meeting

In September 2014, a Hoboken, New Jersey fire captain filed a complaint with the Fire Chief. He alleged that, at two union meetings, two other fire captains harassed him and subjected him to a hostile work environment. The employer investigated the captain’s complaint. It ordered bargaining unit members who were present at the union meetings […]

In North Carolina, Sheriff’s Employees Are Not County Employees

When Daniel Bailey was elected to the office of Sheriff of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, he immediately fired Deputy Sheriff Terri Young, who had failed to contribute to Bailey’s election campaign. Young sued, citing a North Carolina statute that “no county employee may be required as a duty or condition of employment, promotion, or tenure […]

Anxiety Disorder Disqualifies Police Officer From Job

Jason Jordan was hired as a police officer by the City of Union City, Georgia in 2012. Early in Jordan’s training rotation, his supervisors became concerned about his lack of engagement in tactical situations. During a debriefing after one such situation, Jordan explained that his feelings were consistent with anxiety “episodes” or “attacks” that he […]

Firefighter Was Not Forced To Resign

Joe Colon was a firefighter with the City of Lorain, Ohio. When confronted with allegations of sick leave abuse that could be considered what Ohio’s criminal laws call “theft in office,” Colon met with representatives from Local 267 of the International Association of Fire Fighters. Colon then offered to resign his employment with the Department. […]

New Jersey Courts Need Not Necessarily Consider Progressive Discipline

Dana Register was a corrections officer for the New Jersey Department of Corrections, and was assigned to the Mountainview Correctional Facility. On September 9, 2013, the DOC’s Special Investigations Division (SID) received an anonymous note, which stated: “SCO Register is messing with an inmate [T.W.] in the Full Minimum Unit. She is getting out of […]

COBRA Rights Are Not Unrestricted

William Gilson was a trooper for the Pennsylvania State Patrol. The Patrol terminated Gilson in 2010, finding that, while on-duty, he had “inappropriate physical contact with a female crisis services worker.” The Patrol also concluded that Gilson had “obviously lied to the investigator regarding his misconduct, and that Gilson had been the subject of a […]

Officer Received Adequate Due Process Before Being Placed On Brady-Type List

John Gantert began working as a police officer in Rochester, New Hampshire in March 2005. For six years he was viewed as a “good and productive officer” and had no disciplinary actions reflected in his personnel file. Upon beginning his shift on March 24, 2011, Gantert was instructed to assist another officer in booking an […]

Supreme Court Reinstates Officer’s Free Speech Lawsuit

In 2005, Jeffrey Heffernan was a police officer in Paterson, New Jersey. He worked in the office of the Chief of Police, James Wittig. At that time, the mayor of Paterson, Jose Torres, was running for reelection against Lawrence Spagnola. Torres had appointed both Chief Wittig and a subordinate who directly supervised Heffernan to their […]

Step Increases After A Contract Expires

A question about step increases arises with some frequency. Need an employer continue to pay step increases after a contract has expired but before a new contract is negotiated? A recent decision of an appeals court in New Jersey illustrates how issues such as this fall under what is known as the “status quo” doctrine. […]