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Firefighter Arbitration Award Upheld As ‘Reasonably Debatable’

The collective bargaining agreement between Carteret, New Jersey and the Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association provides that senior firefighters in the Carteret Fire Department are entitled to acting captain’s pay whenever they assume the role of a fire captain. A dispute arose when the Borough of Carteret created the new position of lieutenant within the Fire Department but did not pay lieutenants at the rate of an acting captain when…

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No Workers’ Comp For Off-Duty Unsupervised Lifting Injury

In 2006, Daniel Desimone began working for the County of Santa Barbara as a corrections officer. In October 2007, Desimone injured his lower back. The incident occurred at a private gym inside an apartment complex on a weekend when Desimone was not working, and no other County employees were present. Desimone was attempting to lift 350 pounds without the direction or supervision of a fitness trainer. The injury resulted…

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Officer Fired For ‘Delusional Disorder’ Entitled To Unemployment Benefits

Stefan Sanders began working for the Grenada, Mississippi Police Department as a police officer in January 2015. In February 2019, while off duty, Sanders placed a 911 call asking that police officers come to his residence. Grenada officers responded to his home and found Sanders in the presence of a young woman. Sanders said that he and the young woman had been seeing each other for a few months….

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Court Upholds Firefighter Wage Parity Ballot Measure

In 2003, the City of Houston adopted the Fire and Police Employee Relations Act to govern Houston fire fighters’ compensation, conditions of employment, and collective bargaining rights. The Act provides that fire fighters’ compensation and conditions of employment shall be “substantially equal to” and “based on” comparable private sector employment. In 2017, the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association proposed and gathered enough signatures to place on the ballot a…

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Prevention Of ‘Prisoner Abuse’ Not Basis To Overturn Arbitrator’s Opinion

On May 1, 2018, York County, Pennsylvania Corrections Officers Marcial Baez and Graig Phillips were responsible for the custody and care of an inmate with mental health issues who had been placed on suicide prevention watch. The two verbally engaged in bantering with the inmate. They used profanity and slurs, taunted and antagonized the inmate, causing him to become agitated to the point that he placed a mattress against…

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Court Rejects Chief’s Claim That Judges And/Or Law Clerks Viewed Pornographic Emails

In May 2012, the City of Colstrip, Montana discharged Larry Reinlasoder from his employment as Chief of Police based on various alleged instances of misconduct in violation of the City’s written employment policy. The cited misconduct included a particular instance of alleged hostile working environment sexual harassment in which Reinlasoder allegedly invited a female dispatcher into his office to view pornography on his office computer. Reinlasoder sued the City…

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Probation Officer Loses Free Speech Claim By Not Showing ‘But For’

Randall Knight was a probation officer for Nassau County, New York. Knight was terminated by the County in 2015 for his conduct during two incidents. The first incident involved Knight responding combatively and uncooperatively when Judy Arroyo, a City of Long Beach police officer, pulled him over for running a red light. The second incident involved Knight confronting Martha Del Valle, his partner probation officer, in an intimidating manner…

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Denying Union President Right To “Ride A Rig” Deemed Unlawful

Michael Nevin has been employed by the Detroit Fire Department for 33 years and is currently captain of a tactical rescue squad. He was elected president of Local 344 of the IAFF in December 2015. For the first two years of Nevin’s presidency, Local 344 filed no grievances against the Fire Department. During the period 2017 to 2019 however, Local 344 filed approximately 30 grievances per year, as well…

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Comments In Union Election Protected By Labor Law

Jennifer Tyler is a member of the Chelan County Deputy Sheriff’s Association in Washington. When a vice-president of the Association resigned, Sergeant Adam Musgrove ran for the position. On October 12, 2018, Tyler responded to Musgrove’s nomination in an email sent to the private email addresses of all union members. Tyler wrote, “I would like to contest the nomination of Adam Musgrove on the basis of evidence of workplace…

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Chicago Required To Bargain Effects of Bodycam Program

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 program, the negotiations failed to produce an agreement. The FOP eventually filed two unfair labor practice…

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Q & A

From New York:Question: I have a union member that took a voluntary demotion due to some misconduct. The settlement agreement which was signed does not indicate a de­duction or reduced pay, it just states the member will be demoted from sergeant to deputy. The County failed to reduce the member’s pay when the demotion happened about six months ago. The County has now changed the member’s pay to deputy…

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Angry Response To Representation Request Violates Weingarten

Waukesha County, Wisconsin is party to a collective bargaining agreement with the Waukesha Deputy Sheriffs Labor Union. On December 5, 2019, Steven Miksch, who is a member of the Union, was directed to meet with Nick Ollinger and Chad Niles, both of whom were supervisors. Niles and Ollinger each reviewed a work report with Miksch and provided him with feedback. Ollinger then started a conversation with Miksch as to…

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Officer Not Entitled To Retirement Service Credits For Years Of Admin Leave

A New Jersey police officer identi­fied by the court only as “M.A.” began his employment as a municipal police officer on January 1, 1988. From January 2004 to March 2007, M.A., who had been diagnosed with depressive disorder and anxiety, was involved in a series of off-duty psychological incidents, some of which required he be restrained by police officers. In 2007, M.A. was involuntarily committed to a hospital for…

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Fire Lieutenant Loses ‘Buzzing Cell Phone’ Promotion Claim

Jeffrey Neal is a Cincinnati fire lieutenant. In 2015, the Department began accepting internal applications for fire captain and administered pro­motional exams as part of that process. Neal applied for the advancement and participated in the promotional exam, which consisted of five sections. The first two sections presented objective, multiple choice questions; whereas the remaining three were subjective, in­volving tactical, interview, and written components. Neal’s rankings for the first…

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SWAT Officer Loses PTSD Claim

Christopher Rocap began working as a New Jersey State Police trooper in 1993. In 2001, he joined the Technical Emergency and Mission Specialist Unit (TEAMS), which specializes in danger­ous and technical assignments. Rocap’s experiences with TEAMS included rescuing persons trapped in burning buildings, recovering the bodies of drowning victims, engaging and talking down suicidal persons, and dealing with armed suspects holding hostages. In 2013, Rocap began treatment with psychiatrist…

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Officer Not Entitled To Defense In Suit Arising From Off-Duty Job

Eric Reetz is a police officer with the City of Saint Paul, Minnesota. Reetz also worked part time as a private security guard at the Dorothy Day Center – a homeless shelter in Saint Paul – that is operated by Catholic Charities. Under Reetz’s agree­ment with Catholic Charities, he was described as an independent contractor and his duties included assisting staff in examining clients’ bags to ensure that “no…

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Arbitrator Overturns Firefighter Hazing Terminations

Firefighters working for Orange Township in Ohio operate in work groups. Some work groups include both full-time and part-time firefighters. In October 2016, Marcus Musser began working as a part-time firefighter at Station 361 in what was referred to as “I-Unit.” In September 2019, Musser asked one of his captains whether he could transfer to a different unit in order to gain additional experience. When the captain suspected that…

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No Duty Of Fair Representation Where Union Not Exclusive Rep

In a factually bizarre case, the General Counsel for Florida’s Public Employment Relations Commission stressed what is and what is not covered by a union’s duty of fair representation. The unfair labor practice charge was filed by Marcus Brinson, an internal affairs investigator for the University of Florida Police Department (UFPD). Brinson is a member of the Police Be­nevolent Association of Florida. Brinson conducted an investigation into allegations of…

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‘Associational’ Hostile Work Environments Under Title VII

Jeffrey Kengerski was a captain at the Allegheny County Jail in Pennsylvania. In April 2015, Kengerski submitted a written complaint to Orlando Harper, Warden of the Allegheny County Jail. This com­plaint was against Robyn McCall, a white female employee at the jail who had been promoted to Major in December 2014. In his complaint, Kengerski detailed an event from over a year before where he was discussing his grand-niece…

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Involvement Of Decisionmaker In Appeal Violates Due Process, Results In $3.75 Million In Damages

Jason Briley worked for the City of West Covina as a deputy fire marshal. As deputy fire marshal, Briley oversaw the operations of the Fire Prevention Bu­reau, which included checking building code plans for Fire Code compliance, inspecting existing buildings for com­pliance, and conducting fire investiga­tions. Briley was initially supervised by Larry Whithorn, then the fire marshal and assistant fire chief. In June 2014, Briley complained to the City’s…

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Vaccines And Employment Law

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 of orders. In FAQ format, here’s LRIS’s take on the most common questions. Don’t employees have…

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Judge Allows Conspiracy Lawsuit To Proceed Against Minneapolis Union President

In an extraordinary ruling, a federal trial court judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Robert Kroll, the presi­dent of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis. The heart of the allegations against Kroll seem to be that he was too effective in his dealing with Minneapolis civic leaders. The lawsuit was filed by a group of journalists, photographers, and other members of the press who were present during…

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No Whistleblower Claim For Comments Made In Union Meeting

In February 2016, Leonel Alvarez was hired as a police officer by the City of Delano, California. Within the first week of his employment, Alvarez joined the Delano Police Officers Association. Months later, he attended the December 2016 Association meeting. Among the topics on the agenda was a loan the Association had made to Corporal Jose Madrigal, the Association president. At the meeting, the Association treasurer initiated a discussion…

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Arbitrator Rules In Favor Of Disciplinary Arbitration

When the collective bargaining agreement between the Village of River Forest in Illinois and the FOP expired in April 2019, the parties were unable to reach agreement on a new contract. In dispute was the system of appealing discipline. The prior labor agreements between the Village and the FOP excluded discipline from the coverage of the contract and routed disciplinary appeals to the Village’s Board of Fire and Police…

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One Occasion Does Not A Past Practice Make

Local 1404 of the IAFF represents firefighters working for the City of Norwich, New York. Prior to the 2003-2004 collective bargaining agreement between Local 1404 and the City, retirees did not contribute towards their receipt of retiree health insurance benefits. In the 2003-2004 collective bargaining agreement, Local 1404 and the City agreed that retirees would pay percentage contributions toward health insurance. Two firefighters who retired in 2013 were on…

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