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Sleeping Dispatcher Allowed Trial On Retaliation Claims

Denise Watkins, who is African-American, was a shift supervisor for the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana. She reported to Lieutenant Marshall Carmouche, who reported to Sheriff Michael Tregre. On January 30, 2018 Carmouche commended Watkins and three other dispatchers for superb work. He recognized Watkins’s performance in an email to Sheriff Tregre, explaining that teamwork in the 911 Department had led to an arrest. Just…

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When Does A ULP Charge Block An Election?

Michael Coutre, a police officer with the Village of Crestwood in Illinois, filed a petition seeking an election as to whether the Illinois Council of Police should continue as the labor representative for employees. Before the petition was filed, the Council filed two unfair labor practice charges against the employer. The first alleged that the Village’s agents interrogated employees about who signed union authorization cards, threatened employees, and ultimately…

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Weingarten And Supervisor-Subordinate Conversations

Deputy Taylor Weiss works for the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department in Wisconsin. On December 13, 2019, Weiss forgot she had agreed to work an extra shift and went home. After her absence was reported to Lieutenant Marc Moonen, he called Weiss at her home to ask why she was not working and whether she could still report to work for the remainder of the shift. Weiss told Moonen she…

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Arbitrator Finds CBA Implicitly Bars Subcontracting

The City of Grand Rapids, Michigan and the Grand Rapids Police Officers Association are parties to a collective bargaining agreement. In 2019, the police chief notified the Association that work performed by three employees in the Property Management, Traffic, and Detective Units would be transferred to civilian employees who were outside the Association’s bargaining unit. The Association responded by filing a grievance, and the dispute wound up before an…

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Civil Service Referee Upholds Firefighter’s CBD-Based Termination

Gerardo Colon became a Cleveland firefighter on October 9, 2000. Over his career, Colon suffered three consequential injuries on the job to his neck, back, shoulder and knee that have caused ongoing pain. In 2017, Colon tested positive for marijuana, and admitted to smoking marijuana prior to the test to help him sleep. In lieu of termination, Colon signed a last chance agreement on October 3, 2017. The agreement…

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Reinstatement Ordered For Fire Association President

Cliff Snider is a firefighter with the city of Pasadena, California. In 2009, and then again from 2011 forward, Snider was the president of the Pasadena Firefighters’ Association. In October 2014, Snider injured his back while trying to lift a patient during an emergency call. Although Snider initially felt well enough to remain on duty, he soon suffered a severe back spasm that required him to visit the emergency…

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Mass. Civil Service Has No Authority To Review Leave Forfeiture

Denise Doherty has been employed by the Massachusetts State Police Department for over 20 years. From 2007 to 2012, Doherty was assigned to the Department’s certification unit, which is responsible for providing licensing services for private security, or watch guard, companies. In October 2011, Doherty began an administrative inspection of a watch guard company referred to anonymously in later court opinions as the XYZ Watch Guard Company. Doherty reviewed…

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Fire Department’s Tattoo Policy Upheld

When Corey Matchem took and passed the written portion of the civil service examination and the entry-level physical examination for the position of firefighter, his name was placed on the firefighter eligible list established by the Massachusetts Human Resources Division (HRD). The HRD acts as the testing agent and clearing house for most Massachusetts public safety employees. The HRD later authorized the City of Brockton to appoint ten firefighters…

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Deputies’ Union Wins $7.8 Million Judgment Against Former Officers

The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS) represents the more than 7,000 deputy sheriffs working for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. ALADS has a seven-member board of directors elected by its voting members. The board in turn selects ALADS’s officers from among the board members. In 2013, the ALADS board selected Armando Macias as president and John Nance as vice-president. Very quickly, some ALADS members became dissatisfied…

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Chicago Commits Bodycam-Related Unfair Labor Practices

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 Body Worn Camera (BWC) Pilot Program, and gradually expanded the program over the next two years….

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‘Two-Female’ Policy Upheld

Shonda Million was a corrections officer for the Warren County Jail in Ohio. The Jail is operated by the Sheriff’s Office. It houses minimum, medium, and maximum security adult inmates of both sexes. Between September 2012 and August 2015, the Jail employed 17–23 female officers and roughly 33–35 male officers, not counting supervisors. The Jail has four male housing units and one female housing unit, known as C-Pod. C-Pod…

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Senator Allowed To Attend Firefighter’s Workers’ Comp Hearing

Peter Benzing worked as a Casa Grande, Arizona firefighter for ten years. In 2018, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer. He filed a workers’ compen­sation claim alleging his cancer is an occupational disease. When the City denied his claim, Benzing requested a hearing to chal­lenge the denial. He then requested permission for a union representative and State Senator Paul Boyer to attend the hearing. In…

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Memo About Moldy Police Station Not Constitutionally Protected

Gerald Olbek was the deputy chief of the Wildwood Police Department in Florida. After a series of events that included a fire at the Department’s station, Olbek became concerned that the station had a serious mold problem. Olbek wrote a memo detailing the mold issues. The memo cited the fact that numerous employees had com­plained of health conditions related to mold and that the City had tried to remedy…

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Chief Not Entitled To Pension Credit For Severance Pay

William Rogers was enrolled in the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) on March 1, 1995, the date he began working for the Borough of Weno­nah in New Jersey as a police officer. He advanced through the ranks to the level of Chief of Police. In 2018, the Borough entered into a shared services agreement with a neighbor­ing town. Rogers received written notice from the Borough’s mayor concerning the…

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Firefighter Loses Gradual Hearing Loss Claim

James Hartman has been employed by the St. Bernard Parish Fire Department in Louisiana since May 25, 1990, rising to the rank of District Chief. During the course of his employment with the Department, Hartman was exposed to injurious levels of noise, which resulted in permanent hearing loss. Hartman informed the Department of his hearing loss on September 20, 2006. He underwent audiograms in January 2008, April 2014, March…

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Civil Service Orders Reinstatement Of Officer Who Shot Rayshard Brooks

On June 12, 2020, Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe and another offi­cer were called to a Wendy’s restaurant to deal with Rayshard Brooks, who had fallen asleep in his car in the drive-through lane. The officers questioned Brooks for a half hour and conducted field sobriety tests. As the officers moved to handcuff Brooks, Brooks grabbed the Taser of one of the officers and began running away. Rolfe chased…

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Prosecutor Cannot Be Sued For Stating At Roll Call That Sergeant Was A Thief And A Liar

In early 2016, Officer Edwin Diaz, a 20-year veteran working in the Narcotics Bureau of the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), became the subject of an internal investiga­tion. The investigation came in the wake of several high-profile arrests of MDPD police officers. The MDPD’s investigators worked in conjunction with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. The investigation into Diaz was based on allegations that…

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Florida Statute Shields Officers’ Names From Disclosure After Officer Involved Shooting

In two separate encounters, crime suspects threatened Tallahassee police officers with violence. Faced with the imminent threat of harm, the officers responded with force, resulting in fa­talities. Following the encounters, the City of Tallahassee revealed its intent to disclose the identities of the police officers to the public. The officers and their union, the Florida PBA, opposed public disclosure of the officers’ identities and sought a declaration from the…

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Court Changes ‘Public Policy’ Doctrine To Overturn Arbitrator’s Opinion

One of the few exceptions to the rule that arbitration is final and bind­ing is known as the “public policy” doctrine. Under the doctrine, if an arbitrator’s award violates a clearly articulated and dominant public pol­icy, a court will refuse to enforce it. When applying the public policy doctrine, courts – from the United States Supreme Court to federal and state courts around the country – have been careful…

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

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 damages and changes in the City’s policies with respect to demonstrations. One of the lawsuits, which…

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Q & A

From Washington:Question: Would you be willing to comment on a situation regarding sick leave? Our CBA is silent on the issue of using sick leave extending beyond three consecutive days. The employer has not utilized this policy for any of our members, but recently stated they would if an employee called in one more day after she was off for three. I engaged in an email exchange with the…

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In Some States, PTSD Not Compensable Injury Without Physical Injury

Brian Carver was employed by the Jackson Police Department in Mississippi as a patrolman for 20 years. In 2004, Carver fatally shot a suspect. After his two required visits to a psychologist, Carver was cleared to return to work, where he experienced physical and mental health issues while on duty. The first time Carver experienced PTSD symptoms after returning to work occurred when he was dispatched on a domestic…

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Suspensions, Not Demotion, Appropriate Punishment For Harassing Conduct

Jimmie Turner was a lieutenant with the New Orleans Police Department. In an October 17, 2018 disciplinary letter, the Department suspended and then demoted Turner to a police sergeant classification after finding that he violated Policy 328 entitled “Workplace Discriminatory Harassment/Retaliation.” The discipline arose from a complaint lodged by Sergeant Peter Hansche. At the time of the complaint, Turner was Hansche’s immediate supervisor in the Homicide Unit. Hansche, a…

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Deputy Fired After Supporting Husband’s Losing Campaign For Sheriff

Sabrina Tice began working for the Sheriff’s Department in Lincoln County, Oklahoma as a full-time deputy in 2012. Charlie Dougherty was the elected Sheriff. Tice’s husband, John Tice, also worked as a deputy with the Department. In 2015, Mr. Tice was indicted on criminal charges related to an alleged excessive use of force. Given the charges, the Department terminated Mr. Tice’s employment. Tice was unhappy about the termination decision…

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Mandatory Retirement Not ‘Involuntary’

Firefighter Robert Pyzyna worked for the Prospect Heights Fire Protection District in Illinois from June 2005 until his retirement on October 31, 2017. Pyzyna’s retirement was required because he had reached the age of 65, the mandatory retirement age for active firefighters under the Illinois Fire Protection District Act. Pyzyna retired with a defined benefit pension plan and began receiving pension benefits in November 2017. That same month, Pyzyna…

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