Q & A

From Oklahoma:Question: Is there a reasonable amount of time the City has to administer discipline? Meaning if an incident took place approximately 11 months ago and they investigated it approximately two weeks after the incident. Normally punishment is rendered within a few weeks to a month (maybe two). This particular discipline was handed down approximately ten months after the investigative meeting. Answer: The answer will depend a lot on…

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Important To Intervene Early In Discrimination Cases

In 2015, several black firefighters sued the City of St. Louis, alleging that the City structured its 2013 promo­tional tests for the ranks of captain and battalion chief in a way that adversely and disproportionately affected black candidates. The case was settled in 2017, with the settlement changing some aspects of the City’s promotional system. The settlement did not give the federal court hearing the case ongoing responsibility for…

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Police Chief Loses Defamation Claims Against Union’s Law Firm

Mark Elbert was the chief of police for Bellevue, Nebraska. Officers in the Police Department are represented by the Bellevue Police Officers Associa­tion (BPOA). Gary Young and the law firm Keating, O’Gara, Nedved & Peter (KONP) represents the BPOA. At a meeting on September 13, 2017, BPOA members discussed Chief Elbert and some of his conduct, and, by a vote of 72 to 1, expressed “no confidence” in him…

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For Third Time, Newark Told To Bargain Over Drug Testing

The Newark Police Superior Officers’ Association (SOA) represents supervisors in the Newark Police Department. On March 20, 2018, the New Jersey attorney general issued Law Enforcement Direc­tive 2018-02, implementing statewide mandatory random drug testing for all state, county, and municipal law en­forcement agencies and sworn officers. The directive required all state, county, and municipal law enforcement agencies to “adopt and/or revise their existing drug testing policies” consistent with the…

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Explosive Breacher Training Claim Survives Dismissal

Brian Cunningham was a Layton City firefighter in Utah. Cunningham was paid by Layton City to receive SWAT training conducted by Weber County. As students arrived at the SWAT training, they were required to sign a waiver in which they “unconditionally and irrevocably released and discharged the Ogden Metro SWAT Team and all related organizations and entities from any and all claims, demands, damages actions and causes of action…

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Corrections Officers Lack Standing To Challenge Sick Leave Confinement Policy

Corrections officers for Cook County, Illinois are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local Union No. 700. In 2017, the Union and Sheriff’s Office agreed on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement intended, at least in part, to address the Sheriff’s Office’s concerns over perceived attendance issues related to employees calling in sick or taking medical leave when they could not use preapproved vacation or personal time. Section 8.2.H…

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Officer Loses Pension On Conviction Of Wire Fraud

The retirement system for San Francisco police officers is contained in the City’s charter, which created the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System (SFERS). Under the charter, an individual convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude committed in connection with his or her official duties forfeits all rights to his or her SFERS retirement benefits. Ian Furminger was a sergeant with the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) and was enrolled…

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Post-Retirement Conduct Can Result In Pension Forfeiture

Paul Mahan was a correction of­ficer for the Suffolk County sheriff’s department in Massachusetts. On August 15, 2000, while attempting to restrain an inmate who was involved in a fight, Mahan severely injured his knee. Mahan’s application for accidental disability retirement was approved by the board for the Boston retirement system. Between January 1, 2006, and January 1, 2013, Mahan received a combination of workers’ compen­sation benefits, “assault pay,”…

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Can An Officer On FMLA Leave Work A Second Job?

Patrick Lands worked as a police officer at the Raleigh Police Depart­ment from 2008 to 2019. During his employment, Lands was promoted to the rank of detective. In August 2017, Lands’s father was in a serious car ac­cident and Lands asked for permission to take time away from work to care for his father. Lands was approved to take leave pursuant to the FMLA beginning on September 13, 2017….

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Waiver Of Bargaining Rights Need Not Be In Writing

The Portland Fire Fighters’ Associ­ation represents firefighters working for the City of Portland, Oregon. During the collective bargaining agreement for the period July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2016, the City realized that deep bud­get cuts were required for the 2013-14 fiscal year, and proposed cuts of $4.4 million from the City’s Fire Bureau. The City proposed to close four fire companies, which would have result­ed in a layoff…

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Officer Had No Expectation Of Privacy In Employer Video Equipment

Scott Kilmer was a police officer for Bells Police Department in Tex­as. On March 11, 2017, Kilmer was working off-duty security at a private wedding venue; he was dressed in his Bells police officer uniform and using his Bells police patrol vehicle. Over the course of the evening, some guests noticed Kilmer placing his foot between the legs of unsuspecting women and “videoing up their skirt” with a small…

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Union Officers’ Knowledge Can Waive Union’s Right To Bargain

Firefighters for the City of Syra­cuse, New York are represented by the Syracuse Firefighter’s Association. City firefighters undergo employment-relat­ed medical examinations with the Fire Physician for several reasons. These include annual physical examinations, which, for some firefighters, includes a portion on handling hazardous ma­terial, return to work/fitness for duty examinations, sick time certification, and tuberculosis testing. While most firefighters may choose between the Fire Physician and their physician to…

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Kentucky Supreme Court: Conversations Between Union And Members Confidential

 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 orders from George and the other lieutenant and needed a resolution. Following this meeting, George submitted…

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First Federal Appeals Court Plain View Project Case

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.” In 2019, when the PVP posted the database of social media posts it had created covering…

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Disagreement With Tactics Not Basis For Claim Against Union

Sanja Drinks-Bruder works for the Niagara Falls Police Department. Drinks-Bruder brought a number of claims against the City, alleging that she was “forced to work in unnecessary danger” on July 23, 2019. Drinks-Bruder claimed that she was retaliated against because she refused to take an allegedly unsafe assignment, which consisted of being “locked in a room with the men­tally ill working alone and not being able to get out…

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Murder Of Ex-Wife Results In Loss Of Pension Benefits

On May 7, 2009, Drew Peterson was charged with the first-degree murder of his former wife, Kathleen Savio, who had been found dead in her bathtub on March 1, 2004. Peterson was tried and convicted in 2012 and was sentenced to 38 years in prison. From 1977 until his retirement on November 9, 2007, Peterson had been a police officer in the Bolingbrook Police Department in Illinois. On November…

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Calculating Offsets Against Back Pay

Fabian Butler was a firefighter for the City of Big Spring, Texas. Butler was wrongfully suspended from May 1, 2015 to September 23, 2019. Between his suspension and his reinstatement, he found alter­native employment that resulted in total gross earnings exceeding those of his former employment. His pay fluctuated, and during some pay periods, Butler’s compensation from his replacement job was more than his firefighter earnings, while in others…

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Union Does Not Breach DFR By Refusing To Bargain Seniority Issue

Brandon Barth, Mark Cam­popiano, David Jubinville, Justin Rutkiewicz, and Ryan Shore (the Sergeants) are all sergeants in the City of Cranston Police Department in Rhode Island who sued their union, Local 301 of the International Broth­erhood of Police Officers, for breach of duty of fair representation. The dispute stemmed from an incident in 2013, when a sergeant by the name of Josefson accepted a demotion in order to avoid…

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Iowa’s New Brady Statute Grants Protections To Officers

Through a bill known as House File 2496 and passed in June 2022, Iowa enacted a statute granting both substantive and procedural protections to officers placed on a Brady list. Section 2 of HF 2496 provides that “an officer shall not be discharged, disciplined, or threatened with discharge or discipline by a state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency solely due to a pros­ecuting agency making a determination or…

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City Must Bargain Placement Of Surveillance Devices In Non-Public Areas Of Fire Department

The City of Sharonville, Ohio and Local 4498 of the IAFF are parties to a collective bargaining agreement cov­ering members of the Sharonville Fire Department. On December 30, 2020, Local 4498 filed an unfair labor practice charge alleging the City violated Ohio’s collective bargaining law by failing to maintain the status quo. The issue arose after the City installed video/audio surveillance cameras in the following areas of the fire…

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Transfer Of Police Work To Security Officers Is Unlawful ‘Skimming’

Teamsters Local 117 represents a bargaining unit of full-time and regular part-time police officers employed by the University of Washington (UWPD) in Seattle. The University also employs secu­rity personnel who are represented by the Service Employees International Union. In 2020, after months of civil unrest throughout the country, the University received a list of demands from the Black Student Union (BSU) seeking changes. The BSU requested that the University…

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Phoenix And Plain View Project In State Court

Only days before the Ninth Circuit decided the case involving Phoenix Police Sergeant Juan Hernandez, the Arizona Court of Appeals weighed in on a completely different disciplinary issue arising out of the penalties im­posed by the Department arising out of social media posts highlighted by the Plain View Project (PVP). The case involved now-retired Sergeant Stefani McMichael-Gombar, who who was suspended for 24 hours for a post she made…

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Has The Supreme Court Slightly Opened The Free Speech Door?

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 the public employee, it has no constitutional protection under the First Amendment. Garcetti has led to…

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Court Has No Jurisdiction To Interpret Labor Contract

Alison Schaber works for Ramsey County in Minnesota and is the pres­ident of the Ramsey County Deputy Federation. Under the Federation’s collective bargaining agreement, the County is required to provide a matching contribution to the employee’s deferred compensation account of up to $25 per month per contributing employee. The County did not send the employer match portion of Schaber’s deferred compensation funds to her deferred compensation account. Instead, it…

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Garrity Offers No Protection For Dishonesty

James MacColl, a police officer with Wilmington, Delaware, shot a fleeing carjacking suspect in 2019. During the resulting deadly force investigation, MacColl turned in his Department-issued gun for testing. The ballistics results showed a mismatch between the grooves on the test rounds and the grooves on the bullets recovered from the scene. Closer inspection revealed that the gun barrel was not a Depart­ment-standard issue barrel. The Department believed that…

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