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School Did Not Improperly Bar Officer From School Grounds

Robert Morrison was employed by the Hartford, Connecticut School Board as a special police officer. Morrison was also the president of the Hartford Federation of Special School Police Officers, Local 1018D, AFT CT, AFT, AFL-CIO (the Union). On February 28, 2020, the School Board placed Morrison on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into charges that Morrison failed to adequately review the video recording of an…

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Firefighter’s Bladder Cancer Presumed To Be Caused By Job

Stephen Bradley was a firefighter with the City of Olympia, Washington. As a firefighter, Bradley was exposed to diesel exhaust during various firefighting activities. He also was exposed to mild to moderate smoke, fumes, and toxins as well as the exhaust from the fire equipment and emergency vehicles while responding to fire suppression-related calls. After fire suppression activities, Bradley would have soot on his wrists and around his neck….

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Due Process And The Brady Rule

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 represents rank-and-file Philadelphia police employees. In March 2017 Philadelphia District Attorney, Seth Williams created a Police Misconduct Review Committee to identify Philadelphia police officers whose testimony should be avoided in criminal cases. As a result of the investigation, 66 officers who were accused of committing serious misconduct were placed on a “Do Not Call List,” which was made available to prosecutors who…

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DFR Claims Can Have Quick Time Limits

As a New York corrections officer learned, claims that a union breached its duty of fair representation can have a very short statute of limitations. Elizabeth Case worked for the Shawangunk Correctional Facility. On March 24, 2019, while on duty, Case contacted Steven Marasco, her representative for the New York State Corrections Officers Police Benevolent Association (PBA), and disclosed to him that on March 19, 2019, she had provided…

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Union Entitled To Materials In Member’s Disciplinary File

Corrections officers working for the State of New York Department of Corrections are represented by the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association. The Department began a disciplinary investigation into Sergeant Erik Rakoff, who worked at Sullivan Correctional Facility. The investigation centered around an incident where an inmate was injured during an escort that Raykoff supervised. When the Department issued a discipline notice to Raykoff, the Association…

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Corrections Officer Wins Workers’ Comp Rape Claim

Crystal Faison worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections as a corrections officer. On May 20, 2018, Faison was approached by a fellow corrections officer with whom she had once had a brief sexual relationship. The other officer, referred to in the Court’s opinion as “Coworker,” ignored Faison’s protests that she did not want to have sex and, while the two were on the job, physically forced Faison to…

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To Be Covered By FMLA, Employee Must Communicate With Employer

Under Department of Labor regu­lations, an employee need not use any “magic words” to trigger an employer’s obligations under the Family and Medi­cal Leave Act and need not use the acro­nym “FMLA.” However, the employee must provide enough information to the employer to give the employer a reason to believe that the employee may have FMLA rights. A recent case involving an Alabama firefighter illustrated how extremely vague communication…

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A Year’s Worth of Garrity Cases

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 be used to criminally prosecute the employee. Whether the prosecution has improperly relied on Garrity evidence…

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Q & A

From Washington:Question: If a state can’t balance their budget, can they take from state employee (police) pensions? Can police officers lose our pensions for a state’s financial disparity? Answer: Federal bankruptcy laws allow cities to seek bankruptcy protection under Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code. That allows cities to reorganize debt and cut pension benefits. States, on the other hand, have no ability to seek bankruptcy protection under Chapter…

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Corrections Union Loses Grievance By Failing To Follow Requirements Of Grievance Procedure

Local 1741 of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) represents corrections officers working for the federal Bureau of Prisons. In May 2016, AFGE notified the warden of a Bureau facility that it was grieving the Employer’s alleged failure to equitably distribute overtime among bargaining unit employees, attaching a draft grievance to its email. About a week later, the warden responded by stating that “the information you have provided…

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Fire Union Gains Access To Chief’s Emails

Local 93 of the IAFF, representing Cleveland’s firefighters, made a public records request for the Fire Chief’s email correspondence dealing solely with emergency responses, such as medical emergencies, structure fires, and motor vehicle accidents, from January 26, 2020, through February 5, 2020. The City disclosed 153 pages of emails but redacted four other emails. When Local 93 protested, the City claimed that the emails were protected from disclosure by…

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Ex-Wife Entitled To Portion Of Officer’s Pension Though Officer Not Yet Retired

In a 1986 decision known as Koelsch v. Koelsch, the Arizona Supreme Court defined a matured pension as an “unconditional right to immediate payment.” Under Koelsch, when an employee spouse continues working after his retirement benefits mature, then he is “liable to reimburse the non-employee spouse for the property interest in the monthly pension benefit.” A non-employee spouse may waive her right to seek Koelsch payments if that spouse…

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Firefighters Entitled To Terminal Pay On Resignation, Not Just Retirement

The retirement benefits for Waterbury firefighters in Connecticut are controlled by a combination of the collective bargaining agreement and City ordinances. One ordinance provides that participants in the pension and retirement system become vested in their benefits under the system after 10 years of service. The collective bargaining agreement provides that “upon the retirement of any employee who was actively employed as of June 30, 2004, such employee shall…

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Lieutenant Gets Access To Blogger’s Computer

Lieutenant Vincent Benvenuto is a 12-year veteran of the Hartford Police Department in Connecticut. Benvenuto became the target of anonymous commentors to a blog, known as “We The People-Hartford,” maintained and operated by Kevin Brookman. The Blog contains two sections. In the first, Brookman publishes his investigative reports derived from attending Department and City Hall press briefings and news conferences and general investigation through various personal sources. The second…

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Accidentally Sent Text Message Not Basis For Lawsuit

Danielle Alston, a former Sergeant with the Philadelphia Police Department, sued her immediate superior, Lieutenant Brian Dougherty, and the City of Philadelphia, alleging gender-based hostile-environment because of a sexually offensive text message Dougherty sent Alston. When Alston’s claims were dismissed by a trial court, she appealed to the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court upheld the dismissal of Alston’s lawsuits. The Court began with the proposition that…

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

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 serious damage to the building and the death of a firefighter. Over the course of his…

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Court Upholds Arbitrator’s ‘Juneteenth’ Decision

The Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association (PSCOA) and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are parties to a collective bargaining agreement. A provision in the contract states that “whenever the Employer declares a special holiday or part holiday for all employees under the Employer’s jurisdiction, all permanent employees who are required to work on the day on which such holiday hours occur shall receive time off with pay for all hours…

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NJ Supreme Court Upholds AG’s Order Requiring Disclosure Of Police Disciplinary Files

In June 2020, the Attorney General for New Jersey issued two directives. The directives called for the release of the names of law enforcement officers who commit disciplinary violations that result in the imposition of major discipline – termination, demotion, or a suspension of more than five days. The directives required that a summary of the misconduct and the sanction imposed should be disclosed. One directive applied to all…

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No Retroactive Ban On Pension Spiking

Peter Nowicki was employed with the Moraga-Orinda Fire District in California from 1983 until 2009. Nowicki began as a paramedic-firefighter and ultimately became fire chief on July 10, 2006. The initial contract between Nowicki and the District, was for a four-year term, with an annual salary of $173,000. Under the terms of the contract, Nowicki was eligible for an annual salary adjustment as determined by the District’s board, following…

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Failed Relationship Does Not Amount To Sexual Harassment

Kathryn Downey has been employed as a trooper by the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) for 16 years, reaching the rank of Lieutenant. Earl Johnson has worked for MSP for roughly the same amount of time and has been assigned as a Fitness Coordinator and Defensive Tactics Coordinator at MSP’s Police Academy for many years. In January or February of 2015, Downey and Johnson began a consensual romantic relationship. Initially…

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Temporary Reassignment Of Union President Justified By Business Necessity

The Fraternal Order of Transit Police (FOTP) represents police of­ficers working for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Author­ity (SEPTA). Officer Omari Bervine has been President of the FOTP since August 2016. On November 1, 2019, Bervine rep­resented SEPTA Officer Kady Ann Cox during an investigatory interview with SEPTA’s internal affairs department regarding an allegation that she had used excessive force against a suspect. Just prior to that interview, Bervine met…

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Firefighter Loses Stroke Claim

William G. Kalenius, a firefighter for the City of Corvallis, Oregon, had a stroke on the job. He filed a worker’s compen­sation claim, relying on the “firefighters’ presumption,” a statute which provides that cardiovascular disease is presump­tively caused by the job. When the City denied Kalenius’ claim, he challenged the decision in the Oregon Court of Appeals. The Court upheld the denial of the claim. The Court found that…

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Laid Off Corrections Sergeant Loses Duty Of Fair Representation Claim

Teamsters Local 760 represents three bargaining units of employees with the Yakima County Department of Correc­tions. One unit contains corrections chiefs and lieutenants; one unit contains correc­tions officers, corporals, and sergeants; and one unit contains clerical employees. Andrew Martin has been a Corrections Sergeant since June 1, 2010, and served as a shop steward until July 31, 2020. On June 4, 2020, the County an­nounced that it would be…

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Leaking Info To Press Not Part Of Firefighter’s Job

Sean DeCrane started as a firefighter with the City of Cleveland’s Division of Fire in the 1990s, eventually working his way up to battalion chief. In August 2012, DeCrane became the director of training at the City’s Fire Training Academy. Ed­ward Eckart is an assistant director in the Department of Public Safety that oversees the Division of Fire. DeCrane applied to be the chief of the Division of Fire….

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The Elements Of A Hostile Work Environment Claim

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 tenure at the facility. Bates separated the incidents into two distinct time periods, pre- and post-…

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