Captain Entitled To See Notes Taken In Disciplinary Investigation

In June 2015, the Town of Kernersville, North Carolina terminated Fire Captain Kevin Bray, who had served the Fire Department for more than 17 years. Bray’s termination stemmed from a meeting he had with Town Manager Curtis Swisher and the Town’s human resources director to discuss some of Bray’s concerns about the Fire Department. In […]

Court Upholds Florida Governor’s Veto Of Firefighter Raises

Local S-20 of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) represents firefighters working for the State of Florida. During bargaining for 2015-2016, Local S-20 sought a $1500 per member raise. Upon reaching impasse, the parties submitted their positions to the Joint Select Committee on Collective Bargaining as required by the statute for resolving impasses. After […]

Court Upholds $4.1 Million Judgment In Favor Of Police Chief

Doug Greisen was the police chief for Scappoose, Oregon. Greisen brought this lawsuit against Defendant Jon Hanken, the Scappoose City Manager. Greisen became concerned about Hanken’s management of the City’s overall budget. Greisen voiced his concern to several people outside his chain of command, including City Councilor Judi Ingham. In addition to discussing his specific […]

Evidence, Not Speculation, Needed For Race Discrimination Claim

Timothy Rivers, an African-American, was hired by the Macon, Georgia Police Department in February 2010. Rivers was certified as an Explosive Ordnance Device K-9 handler, and had been assigned to partner with EOD K-9 Arco in August 2013. On January 1, 2014, the City of Macon and Bibb County were consolidated to form a unified […]

Q & A

From Florida Question: I’ve often heard from my union’s legal defense plan that we cannot go to arbitration for a written reprimand because the grievant has no “property loss” and that the arbitrator can’t rescind the written reprimand. Often our members feel like this is an excuse by the legal defense plan because the LDP […]

No Evidence That Arbitrator Was Partial In Chief’s Termination Case

Matthew Cummings was the Police Chief for Newton, Massachusetts. Cummings worked under an employment contract, which specified that any dispute concerning his “termination of employment…shall be resolved exclusively by arbitration under the Voluntary Labor Arbitration Rules of the American Arbitration Association.” The agreement also specified that “the arbitrator’s decision, if in accordance with law, shall […]

Court Upholds Arbitrator’s ‘Reasonably Debatable’ Decision On Overtime For Shift Change

The collective bargaining agreement between Middletown Township, New Jersey and the Middletown Township Police Superior Officers Association contains a clause that “Management has the right to change shifts or the hours worked but must negotiate any impact of its changes in reference to changes, wages, overtime and other compensation with the union.” A different labor […]

Firefighters, Staffing, And Bargaining

While workplace safety is generally a mandatory subject for collective bargaining, labor boards have struggled to deal with whether staffing issues – which may have an impact on safety – are themselves negotiable. Most labor boards have found that peace officer staffing issues are not negotiable, and that where firefighter staffing measured per piece of […]

Statements Made By Drunk Arrestee Can’t Be Basis For Hostile Work Environment Claim

Mark Johnstone, who is white, has been an officer for the Village of Monticello Police Department in New York since 1989 and a lieutenant since 2010. On November 16, 2013, he arrested Gordon Jenkins, described as “a dark skinned natural person,” for driving while intoxicated. While Johnstone was processing Jenkins at the Monticello Police Station, […]

Milwaukee’s 15-Mile Residency Requirement Upheld

Milwaukee’s city charter requires all city employees to live within city limits. But in 2013, the Wisconsin Legislature passed a statute prohibiting local governments from imposing a residency requirement as a condition of employment. The statute, however, allows a local government to “impose a residency requirement on law enforcement, fire, or emergency personnel that requires […]

Deputies Terminated For ‘Spouse-Swapping’

Brandon Coker and Michael Golden were sheriff’s deputies in Bossier Parish, Louisiana. When Chief Deputy Sheriff Owens learned in late October 2014 that Coker and Golden had each taken up residence in the other’s house, exchanging spouses without having divorced their current wives, they were placed on administrative leave for violating the Sheriff’s Code of […]

Court Reverses Termination Of Corrections Officer Who Punched Inmate In Stomach

Steven Harris is a correctional officer at Maury Correctional Institution, a North Carolina state prison. Harris was working the night shift on February 5, 2015, and was assigned to the “Gray Unit,” which housed the prison’s segregation cell block. Inmate Christopher Walls placed his feces into a plastic bag and placed the bag into the […]

Fire Union Liable For $200K In Fair Representation Case

When the Stamford, Connecticut Firefighters Association refused to process to arbitration a grievance challenging the termination of firefighter Donald Berg, Berg filed a complaint with the Connecticut Board of Labor Relations. The Board found that not only had Berg’s employer, the Long Ridge Fire Company, discharged him without just cause, but also found that the […]

No First Amendment Protection For Safety Complaint Made Through Chain Of Command

As far as the public sector workplace is concerned, Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006) is without doubt the most impactful constitutional law case in the last several decades. In Garcetti, the Supreme Court changed years of jurisprudence by holding that if a public employee engages in speech arising out of his/her job, the […]

Complaint About Fire Chief’s Nazi Behavior Given Mixed Protection

James Dumas is a firefighter at St. Tammany Parish Fire District No. 3 in Louisiana, and is the vice-president of the firefighters’ union. In May 2016, the Union submitted a letter to the District’s Civil Service Board expressing a “vote of no confidence” in Fire Chief Patrick Sicard. The letter alleged that Sicard violated several […]

Divided Kansas Court Extends ‘Firefighter’s Rule’ To Police

A little-known legal principle that rarely fails to surprise firefighters and law enforcement officers is known as the “firefighter’s rule.” Under the rule, firefighters (and increasingly law enforcement officers) are barred from suing third parties whose negligence has caused them injuries on the job. The firefighter’s rule started 125 years ago with an Illinois court […]