Buffalo Protest Officers Absolved In Arbitration

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 taken of the same incident, or heard the testimony of several other Buffalo officers who encountered…

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Repeated Viewing Of Private Intimate Video Is Sexual Harassment

Melinda Abbt was a firefighter with the Houston Fire Department. From 2006 until 2009, she was assigned to Station 18, where her supervisor was Captain Chris Bar­rientes. Station 18 was overseen by District Chief David Elliott, who also had purview over three or four other stations. In 2008, Barrientes received an anonymous email containing an in­timate, nude video of Abbt that she had made privately for her husband and…

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No Privacy Interests In Another’s Apple Watch

William Owens was the fire chief for the City of Monroe, Georgia. Logan Propes is Monroe’s city administrator, and R.V. Watts is the City’s police chief. Watts and Propes learned that Owens had a “intimate” relationship with a married woman referred to as K.I. Chief Owens and K.I. had regular electronic communications via their personal electronic devices, including K.I.’s Apple Watch. In May 2020, K.I. was in the hospital…

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Union Can Demand Mid-Term Bargaining On Topic Not Covered By Contract

While its collective bargaining agreement was in effect, the Multnomah County Corrections Deputy Association demanded to bargain over “mandatory safety issues.” When the County refused to negotiate, the Association filed an un­fair labor practice complaint contending a breach of the obligation to bargain in good faith. The County took the position that it had no duty to engage in midterm bargaining where it had not proposed or made any…

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Sergeant Demoted For Intimate Relationship With Officer

Jeffrey Wolfe worked as a police officer for the City of Town and Coun­try Police Department in Missouri for more than 26 years. One of the officers he supervised was Lauren Becker, who later became his wife. Wolfe was demoted from sergeant to corporal in April of 2017 following an investigation into his relationship with Becker and after a determination by the Department’s personnel committee that the demotion was…

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Garrity Warning Need Not Include Decertification Possibility

Charles Hoffman worked as a po­lice officer for the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office in Utah. In May 2018, Hoffman learned that a neighboring law enforcement agency had been tasked with investigating an incident involving one of his fellow officers. Hoffman was not on good terms with the officer involved and, despite being prohibited from doing so, approached several officers from the neighboring agency and asked them about the…

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Federal Court Halts Firefighter Shift Change On Free Speech Grounds

On December 4, 2019, East Chicago Fire Chief Anthony Serna (who has since retired), acting at the direction of Mayor Anthony Cope­land, issued a memorandum to his firefighters that a new schedule would be instituted. The old schedule was the standard 24 hours on, 48 hours off schedule employed by most fire departments in the country. As a federal trial court put it, “Chief Serna did not give the…

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Qualified Immunity Shields Employer From Liability For Illegal Dropbox Search

Steven Bowers was a sergeant for the Taylor County Sheriff’s Department in Wisconsin. In 2017, the Department started working with a television show called Cold Justice, a true-crime series that investigated unsolved crimes. The Department gave the crew members access to one case file, but Bowers began sharing other case files with them, even though he did not have permission to do so. After Bowers admitted what he had…

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No Basis To Overturn Arbitrator’s Decision Reinstating Corrections Officer

Ronald James, a corrections offi­cer with Berks County, Pennsylvania, was seated at a desk in the common hall of the prison’s E-Unit when he ob­served an inmate attempting to cover the cell door window with a towel in violation of safety regulations. James opened the cell door electronically from a control panel so that he could direct the inmate to take down the towel. The inmate came out of…

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Gang Ties Do Not Amount To National Origin Discrimination

Scott Rice was born in the En­glewood neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. He was hired as a Corrections Officer with the Cook County De­partment of Corrections (DOC) on November 13, 2006 and served in that role until his termination on March 4, 2021. Throughout his employment as a Corrections Officer, Rice maintained relationships with individuals he had known since his youth who have been affiliated with gangs and have previous…

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Q & A

From Washington:Question: What is your understanding of case laws and court rulings regarding physical fitness tests? Can a department require them? Can punishment be handed out for failure to meet standards? Can departments award “perks” or “bonuses” for passing PFT’s or exceeding certain standards? I’ve been told fitness tests have been challenged in courts and ruled against them, meaning they can’t be required. Some state that it’s because it’s…

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Q & A

From Michigan:Question: How long can an arbitration decision in one case, be used as a precedent in another similar case within the same agency? For instance, 12 years ago an officer is found to have had sex on duty. Department proposed termination. Arbitrator reduced to a five-day suspension. Same Union, same department. Does that arbitration award hold strength in a current case for a similar discipline or can the…

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When Is A Girlfriend ‘Similarly Situated’ To A Spouse?

Section 922(g)(9) of Title 18 of the United States Code makes it a felony for an individual who has been convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” to possess a firearm. At the time the law was enacted, only about a third of the states had a criminal statute that specifically proscribed domestic violence, and domestic abusers were usually pros­ecuted under assault and battery laws. To deal with…

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Cadet Loses Claim Against Austin Police Trainers

Christopher Wise was a cadet in the Austin Police Academy. In a lawsuit he later filed, Wise alleged that on October 1, 2018, he was engaged in “a very strenuous series of physical exercises in an activity entitled Stress Reaction Training.” The training was scheduled from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on a day when the high temperature in Austin was approximately 88 degrees and the relative humidity was…

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Tampa Bay Bucs Not Deputy’s Employer

In September 2015 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers played the New Orleans Saints in the New Orleans Superdome. The Buc­caneers contracted with the New Orleans Police Department to provide motorcycle escorts by off-duty law enforcement offi­cers for the team’s buses traveling in the New Orleans area. Deputies from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office (JPSO) eventually served on the motorcycle escort. Following the September 20, 2015 game, the motorcycle officers commenced…

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‘Firefighter’s Rule’ Bars Injured Officer’s Lawsuit

While on routine patrol duty on February 11, 2017, Kassondra Topper, a deputy with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, responded to the scene of a minor motor vehicle collision in Emmitsburg, Maryland. When Topper arrived at the scene, she learned that a vehicle operated by Lynwood Stride had struck another vehicle in the rear. Stride accepted responsibility for the accident, explaining to Topper that he had been in a…

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Freeloaders And Free Riders

Erik Gagne and Barry Wallett are li­quor control agents for the State of Con­necticut. Their union issues a quarterly newsletter to its members, and its 2018 spring and winter newsletters contained the following quote from Cynthia Dill, a State Senator: “Choosing to work where there is a union and getting the related benefits of higher wages and collective bargaining, but not paying a fair share of the costs of…

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Text Message Not Basis For Retaliation Lawsuit

Brad Lamb was a deputy sheriff with the Montrose County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) in Colorado and was supervised by Deputy Steven Collins. Collins repeatedly made racist remarks in the office, including disparaging comments about Mexicans in front of Deputy Brittany Martinez, who is of Mexican descent. Around November 2014, Lamb told his sergeant that he was offended by Collins’s comments and that he thought the sergeant condoned them. Despite…

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Arrest Does Not Necessarily Trigger Weingarten Rights

The Policemen’s Benevolent Asso­ciation Local No. 105 represents cor­rections officers working for the New Jersey Department of Corrections. The Department ordered corrections Jared Smith and Ivan Rivera to meet with Major Scott Abbott. Stuart Alterman, the PBA’s counsel, learned of the meeting before it oc­curred. Alterman wrote to Major Brian Labonne, “I understand that you have ordered both officers in for some type of confidential interview. To do so,…

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ADA Violated By Routine Physical, Psychological Examinations

Officer James LaCroix and Detec­tive Renee Payne-Callender are mem­bers of the Boston Police Department. On March 6, 2015, LaCroix sustained back and hip injuries while he was on duty. LaCroix was placed on leave due to his injuries and remained out of work until he was cleared to return by his doctors in December 2018, The Department notified LaCroix that he would also be required to be examined by…

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No Employment Right To Use Medical Marijuana At Home

Sergeant Samuel Velez Ortiz worked for the Florida Department of Corrections. Velez Ortiz became a patient of Dr. Justin Davis, who is licensed by the Florida Department of Health (DOH) to recommend medical marijuana use. After consulting with Dr. Davis, Velez Ortiz sought and obtained a valid medical marijuana-use registration card from the DOH based on his PTSD, which is a qualifying condition. Accordingly, Velez Ortiz used medical marijuana…

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No Requirement To Fill Vacant Captain’s Position

Richard Levis is a lieutenant with the City of Hackensack Police Depart­ment (HPD) in New Jersey. Within a four-month timeframe in 2015, Levis was served with two Preliminary No­tices of Disciplinary Action (PNDA), alleging various charges. In lieu of a departmental hearing, the Department and Levis reached an agreement in which Levis acknowledged he violated HPD’s sick leave policy and was issued a 29-working-day suspension without pay. The agreement…

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City Stuck With Police Director’s Grant Of Grievances

The Newark Police Superior Officers Association (SOA) filed grievances alleg­ing that the City of Newark violated the terms of its contract with the SOA by: (1) refusing to pay active SOA members longevity on payments for compensatory time; and (2) failing to pay two SOA members for unused vacation days upon their retirement. Both grievances were sustained by the City’s Police Director, the decisionmaker at Step Five of the…

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City Guilty Of ‘Direct Dealing’ In Offering Retiring Incentive

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 had unexpected costs for workers and residents, including approximately $6,330,000 in costs for medical supplies, personal…

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Gap Time And The FLSA

“Gap time” is a recurring issue un­der the FLSA, one that has produced contradictory opinions from different federal courts. A recent opinion from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals does a good job of explaining what gap time means and how courts have produced such diametrically opposed opinions on what compensation, if any, is due for gap time. A classic example of gap time occurs where the employer has…

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