Arbitrator Overturns Chief’s Termination

Matthew Cummings was the Chief of Police for the City of Newton, Massachusetts. Allegations of misconduct came to the attention of the Mayor, who retained an outside contractor to undertake an investigation. When it received his report, the City filed five charges of conduct unbecoming a police chief. At a pre-disciplinary hearing, Cummings called three […]

Third Termination Of Corrections Officer Sticks

Shania Miller was a correctional officer at the Maryland Reception, Diagnostic & Classification Center. As a requirement of her employment, she held a certification from the Correctional Training Commission. In 2010, Warden Solomon Hejirka of the Center terminated Miller’s employment after he learned that Miller was engaged in a sexual relationship with an inmate. With […]

Chicago Police Disciplinary Records Subject To Disclosure In Spite Of Contract Clauses

The Chicago Tribune and Sun Times filed a request under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) seeking the production of “complaint registers” (CR) maintained by the Chicago Police Department. The request included a list of the names of police officers who had received at least one complaint, as well as the officer’s date of […]

Firefighter Entitled To Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Robert Van Buren was a firefighter for Augusta County, Virginia. While on duty on July 25, 2014, he responded to a call requesting assistance for an elderly man who had fallen in the shower. The man weighed approximately 400 pounds and had broken his leg during the fall. When Van Buren arrived, the man was […]

Detective Not Required To Have Surgery

Patrizia Prew, who held the rank of detective after more than 15 years of service in the Providence Police Department, injured her right hand and wrist as she attempted to detain a juvenile following a disturbance outside his school. Thereafter, her status was “injured on duty,” and her doctor diagnosed her with post-traumatic carpal tunnel […]

Selling Shoes On E-Bay Not ‘Misconduct’ Disqualifying Trooper From Unemployment

State unemployment compensation laws generally award unemployment benefits to employees who have been fired, with the notable exception of employees who are fired for “misconduct.” In the unemployment context, “misconduct” is a fairly high standard of proof, as shown recently by a case involving the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. The case involved Freddie […]

Police Board Can Increase Disciplinary Penalty

Where public safety employees do not have “at-will” status, there are three ways of appealing discipline: to arbitration, to court, or to some form of police, fire or civil service board. Those unused to this third option may find it surprising that the hearing boards may have the ability to actually increase the discipline imposed […]

Q & A

From Utah Question: We are in the process of requesting collective bargaining. I have a member who is appealing a practical portion of a promotion test. He is given 10 calendar days to do so which he did, then in our city municipal code they have five calendar days to schedule a hearing, no sooner […]

Court Orders Firefighters Union To Divulge Message To Attorney From Union President

When Andrew Davison was terminated from his position as a Sandwich, Massachusetts firefighter, he sued several individuals and entities. One of the defendants was Jason Viveiros, who was then a fellow firefighter and president of the Sandwich Professional Fire Fighters Association, IAFF Local 2196. Davison did not sue Local 2196 itself. Davison’s termination stemmed in […]

Sheriff Seeking More Deputy Positions Loses Lawsuit Against County

In his 2015 requested budget, Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin asked the County for funding for an additional 119 deputy sheriff positions and an additional 58 correction officer positions. The County’s 2015 budget only authorized an additional 17 deputy sheriff positions. In response, the Milwaukee Deputy Sheriffs Association and Clarke jointly filed a […]

Wording Of Retiree Medical Benefits Clause May Be Critical

Litigation over the level of retiree medical benefits granted by a variety of labor contracts illustrates the care that needs to be taken with the crafting of contract language governing post-retirement medical insurance. The litigation involved the City of Sea Isle, New Jersey, which had labor agreements with an FOP lodge (covering rank-and-file officers), a […]

FLSA Overtime Rate Must Include In-Lieu-Of-Insurance Payments

Many health care plans have a feature that allows employees to opt out of insurance coverage in favor of receiving a cash payment. For some time, questions have arisen as to whether these in-lieu-of-insurance payments must be included in the regular rate of pay for purposes of calculating the FLSA overtime rate. In a recent […]

Legal Defense Plan Not Obliged To Defend Officer

Sammy Cuevas was hired as an officer with the Campbell, California Police Department in April 2008. In 2009, he was the subject of an internal investigation into his off-duty associations with Oscar Padilla and Joseph Aguilera, individuals believed to be gang members and drug dealers. Cuevas was suspended for 36 hours without pay and he […]

Polygraph Evidence Properly Excluded In Officer’s Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

Robert Piel worked for the Federal Way, Washington Police Department for nearly 11 years, as an officer and then as a lieutenant. In May 2006, Chief Anne Kirkpatrick terminated Piel for misconduct when Piel directed a subordinate officer to release a firefighter detained on suspicion of drunk driving. Piel successfully grieved his termination through arbitration. […]

New Jersey Allowed To Freeze Pension COLAs

For many years, public sector retirees in New Jersey received cost of living adjustments to their pensions. The COLAs were thought to be protected by a New Jersey statute making pension benefits non-forfeitable. As part of Governor Chris Christie’s pension reform efforts, the New Jersey Legislature in 2011 suspended future COLAs, freezing the cost-of-living adjustment […]

Trooper Who Quits During Harassment Investigation Loses Unemployment Benefits

Tatiana Loughman began working as a police officer for the Ohio Highway Patrol on August 7, 2013. Upon commencement of her employment, she was subjected to sexual harassment by co-workers and her supervisor, Sergeant Sheldon Robinson. In November 2013, she filed a complaint with the Patrol’s human resources department regarding the harassment. The first complaint […]

Disparate Treatment May Be Defense To Dishonesty Termination

The Town of West Bridgewater, Massachusetts terminated Daniel Desmond from the position of police officer for his “continued pattern of lying/perjury and conduct unbecoming a police officer.” The charges against him arose out of his relationship with a married woman referred to as Mrs. A. Ultimately, Mrs. A. completed an application for a restraining order […]

As Long As Immunity Is Promised, Employer Can Demand Answers To Questions

Police Officer Kirk Homoky was under investigation by the Hobart, Indiana Police Department for misconduct. As part of the investigation, he was ordered to submit to a voice stress test. A letter to Homoky from a deputy chief stated that the investigation was an administrative investigation, not a criminal one, and that Homoky was “afforded […]