Kentucky Supreme Court: Conversations Between Union And Members Confidential

This article appears in the November 2022 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. On January 11, 2017, Sergeant Armin White of the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) met with his direct supervisor, Lieutenant Donald George, to discuss issues he was experiencing in the workplace. White reported directly to George, but he also had administrative duties under a different lieutenant. White claimed that he was receiving conflicting…

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First Federal Appeals Court Plain View Project Case

This article appears in the October 2022 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. The Plain View Project (PVP) was started in 2016 by a group of Philadelphia attorneys who believed that what they identified as racist and religiously biased social media posts by law enforcement officers “could erode civilian trust and confidence in police.” The PVP “hoped that police departments will investigate and address them immediately.”…

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Has The Supreme Court Slightly Opened The Free Speech Door?

This article appears in the September 2022 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. It is hard to overstate the impact on public safety employee free speech rights produced by the 2006 decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos. In Garcetti, a deeply-divided Supreme Court overturned more than 40 years of public employee free speech law. The decision held that if speech is “ordinarily within the job duties” of…

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Porta-Potty Retaliation

This article appears in the July 2022 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. The Shelton Police Union and the City of Shelton, Connecticut are parties to a collective bargaining agreement. On March 10, 2020, Governor Ned Lamont proclaimed a COVID-19 state of emergency. Six days later, the Governor issued Executive Order No. 7D, which stated, in relevant part, “effective at 8 p.m. any indoor gym, fitness…

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Buffalo Protest Officers Absolved In Arbitration

This article appears in the June 2022 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. Many in the United States have seen a five-second clip from a video taken by a journalist of Buffalo police officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski (“the Officers”) pushing 75-year-old Martin A. Gugino to the ground during a protest on June 4, 2020. Few, however, have seen the entire video, or bodycam videos…

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City Guilty Of ‘Direct Dealing’ In Offering Retiring Incentive

This article appears in the May 2022 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. The City of Newark and the Newark Police Superior Officers’ Associa­tion (SOA) are parties to a collective bargaining agreement. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City experienced a dramatic reduction in revenue collections, including property, parking, and payroll taxes, as well as utility payments, permits, and licenses. In addition, the City…

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Major Cell Phone Decision From Phoenix

This article appears in the April 2022 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. Christopher Turiano is a 25-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department. Until recently, he served as a grenadier in the Department’s Tactical Response Unit (TRU). On August 22, 2017, the TRU, including Turiano, was assigned to oversee ground operations at a large protest in downtown Phoenix. Throughout the course of the evening, the…

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Arbitrator Upholds Lieutenant’s Termination For January 6 Charges

This article appears in the March 2022 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. Roxanne Mathai was a lieutenant with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office in Texas. Mathai maintained a Facebook page that had photos of her in her Sheriff’s Office uniform. On January 7, 2021, the Sheriff’s Office learned from Mathai’s Facebook page that she had participated in the events at the Capitol on January 6….

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Massachusetts Courts Deny Injunctions In Vaccination Cases

This article appears in the February 2022 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. The State Police Association of Massachusetts is the exclusive bargaining unit for the approximately 1,800 members of the Department of State Police. On Au­gust 19, 2021, Massachusetts’ governor issued an executive order requiring that all employees of the executive branch prove that they had received full COVID-19 vaccination by October 17, 2021 and…

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A Year’s Worth of Garrity Cases

This article appears in the January 2022 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. The rule in Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 493 (1967), is fairly straightforward. If a governmental employer compels one of its employees to answer questions or provide a written statement upon threat of possible job loss, then neither the em­ployee’s answers or statement nor the fruits of the answers or statement can…

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When Unprotected ‘Employee Speech’ Becomes Protected ‘Citizen Speech’

This article appears in the December 2021 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. Scott Specht works as a fire marshal for the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), where his primary responsibilities involved investigating the origins of fires. In that capacity, Specht investigated a fire in March 2018 that destroyed a five-story brownstone in Manhattan where a motion picture was being filmed. The fire resulted in…

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The Elements Of A Hostile Work Environment Claim

This article appears in the November 2021 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. Brandon Bates, an African Ameri­can man, has held multiple positions in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Pennsylvania. Bates eventu­ally reached, and currently maintains, the position of Captain. Throughout his employment, Paul Carbo, a white male, was his supervisor. Bates sued the County and various County employees, alleging he suf­fered discrimination throughout his…

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Chicago Required To Bargain Effects of Bodycam Program

This article appears in the October 2021 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. In January 2015, the City of Chicago and Lodge #7 of the Fraternal Order of Police agreed to a letter of understanding that facilitated a pilot program for bodycams. In December 2016, the City announced an expedited expansion of the bodycam program. Although the parties engaged in several bargaining sessions over the pilot…

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Vaccines And Employment Law

This article appears in the September 2021 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. Many public employers are exploring or have implemented requirements that public safety employees provide proof of vaccination and, absent such proof, sub­mit to periodic COVID-19 testing. Some employers are simply mandating that all employees be vaccinated. The result has been a barrage of questions from employees as to the legality of these types…

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Federal Court Allows Mandatory Vaccinations

This article appears in the August 2021 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. On April 1, 2021, Houston Methodist Hospital announced a policy requiring all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by June 7, 2021. Jennifer Bridges and 116 fellow employees sued, raising a series of claims in attempting to overturn the mandatory vaccination rule. Federal Court Judge Lynn Hughes rejected the lawsuit. The employees focused…

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Chicago Commits Bodycam-Related Unfair Labor Practices

This article appears in the July 2021 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. The City of Chicago and Lodge #7 of the Fraternal Order of Police were parties to a collective bargaining agreement from July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2017. By its terms, the CBA continued in force and effect past its expiration date. In January 2015, the City instituted the first phase of its…

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When Can Unions Intervene In Federal Litigation That Could Impact Bargaining Rights

This article appears in the June 2021 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. Six civil rights actions were filed between October 2020 and March 2021 against the NYPD, the City of New York, and multiple individual NYPD officers. The lawsuits alleged that defendants engaged in – and continue to engage in – un­constitutional conduct in response to demonstrations throughout New York City. The lawsuits sought money…

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Chief’s Questions And Statements During Roll Call Amount To Illegal “Direct Dealing”

This article appears in the May 2021 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. Ibrahim Michael Baycora is Paterson, New Jersey Police Department’s Chief of Police. The City has bargaining agreements with the Paterson PBA Local 1 (PBA) and Paterson PBA Local 1 Superior Officers Association (SOA). Baycora attended the October 27, 2020 joint negotiations session with the PBA and SOA as a member of the City’s…

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Challenges To The ‘Public Policy’ Doctrine In Illinois

This article appears in the April 2021 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. Parties to contracts such as labor agreements can choose to substitute arbitration for a court resolution of contractual disputes. With two notable exceptions, final and binding arbitration of grievances is just that: final and binding. As the Supreme Court held in United Steelworkers of America v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp., 363 U.S….

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‘Tyrant’ Sheriff Subject To Recall

This article appears in the March 2021 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. By many accounts, the tenure of Benton County Sheriff Jerry Hatcher in Washington had been a tumultuous one. As described by the Washington Supreme Court, “During his short reign as sheriff, Hatcher created a culture of control that led to a hostile work environment for many, if not all, of his employees.” In…

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Whether Bargaining Should Be In Public Is Not Mandatory For Bargaining

This article appears in the February 2021 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. Some public employers are adopting resolutions requiring collective bargaining to be conducted in public. Unions often push back on these resolutions, believing private collective bargaining to be more effective in the give-and-take process for resolving differences. Washington’s Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) recently had to address what happens when the parties are unable…

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Bargaining Obligation Prevails Over Wage Recoupment Statute

This article appears in the January 2021 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. On November 1, 2016, an audit at a county in Washington uncovered an accounting software error had caused Benton County Sheriff’s Office employees, including 85 corrections officers, to be overpaid from June 2016 through September 2016. Benton County Auditor Brenda Chilton sent Sheriff Steven Keane a memo that notified him of the error….

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Prosecutor Allowed To Disclose Brady Information To Chief

This article appears in the December 2020 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. Two unnamed officers of the Fall River Police Department in Massachusetts were present when fellow officer Michael Pessoa used force while arresting an individual on February 12, 2019. Pessoa submitted an arrest report; the officers did not. A few hours after the incident, the officers were ordered by their superiors to each complete…

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Reinstatement Of Corporal Who Used Unnecessary Force Does Not Violate Public Policy

This article appears in the November 2020 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. Corporal Brendon Johnson works as a corrections corporal in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. On May 8, 2016, Johnson responded to a call involving a female inmate with a known history of noncompliance. The inmate had flooded her cell by intentionally clogging her toilet and causing it to overflow. Johnson ordered the inmate to come…

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Officer’s Brady Lawsuit Against Prosecutor Survives

This article appears in the October 2020 issue of our monthly newsletter, Public Safety Labor News. On February 8, 2017, Assistant Burleigh County (North Dakota) State’s Attorney Julie Lawyer received an anonymous letter concerning a Bismarck police officer’s destruction of evidence. The letter prompted Lawyer to review the files of all approximately 100 active, sworn Bismarck police personnel. As part of her investigation, Lawyer reviewed the file of Sergeant…

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