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Arbitration And Civil Rights Litigation

Kyle Bermingham was an officer with the City of Clermont, Florida Police Department. Bermingham was terminated after he complained to the City and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement about the Police Chief’s allegedly unlawful police practices. Bermingham filed a grievance with the City, alleging that his termination violated the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. After the City Manager upheld the termination on initial review, Bermingham brought his…

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Free Speech Doesn’t Protect Against Discrimination By Commander’s Own Political Party

Israel Rojas-Velázquez began working for the Puerto Rico Police Department in 1986. Over more than two decades, he made steady progress. Even though he was a card-carrying member of the New Progressive Party (NPP), one of Puerto Rico’s two major political parties, he received promotions during times when the NPP’s main rival, the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), dominated the executive branch of the Commonwealth’s government. In 2008, he received…

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No Hostile Work Environment Where ‘Harsh And Rude’ Boss Treats All Employees The Same

Some employees believe that a lawsuit exists simply because an employer maintains a “hostile work environment.” That notion is far too sweeping, though. What the law prohibits – and more specifically what Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits – is a hostile work environment based upon the victim’s presence in a protected class such as race or gender. Simply because a boss may be abusive is not…

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Court Upholds $300,000 Award To Officer For Transfer

Byron Hickey, a police officer employed by the Columbus Consolidated Government in Georgia, sued the City, claiming he was retaliated against for opposing unlawful discrimination. When a jury awarded Hickey $306,969, the City asked the trial court to overturn the award on the grounds that inadequate evidence supported Hickey’s claims. The Court rejected the City’s arguments. The key issue was whether Hickey’s transfer from the Vice to the Burglary…

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The Supreme Court And The Scope Of Title VII’s Anti-Discrimination Clause

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act has a broad anti-discrimination clause. 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e-3(a) provides that it “shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against any of his employees…because he has made a charge” under Title VII. Title VII permits “a person claiming to be aggrieved” to file a charge with the EEOC alleging that the employer committed an unlawful employment practice, and,…

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Expulsion From FOP Not A Federal Case

Shawn Hallinan and Wayne Harej are longtime City of Chicago police officers and were members in good standing of the City’s police union, Lodge 7 of the Fraternal Order of Police. Hallinan and Harej were opposed to the policies of Lodge 7’s president, Mark Donahue. During the March 2005 election cycle, Hallinan and Harej formed an opposition slate of 20 candidates to oppose Donahue and the incumbent officers. During…

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Coworker Bullying Can Violate First Amendment

Roger Fairley and Richard Gackowski worked as guards at the Cook County Jail in Chicago. After they alleged their peers threatened to kill them, they quit and sued the other guards, complaint handler, the Sheriff, and the County. Fairley and Gackowski contended that guards at the jail regularly beat prisoners without justification. When Gackowski complained about a particular incident involving the use of force, the other guards responded by…

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Sergeant Entitled To Employer-Paid Defense In Police Officer’s Lawsuit

Michael Stassi was a police officer for the Village of North Syracuse, New York. Stassi brought a civil rights lawsuit against the Village, its mayor, and several former employees of the Department, including Daniel Keefe, a former sergeant in the Department. When the Village denied Keefe’s request for representation in the lawsuit, he asked the federal court judge presiding over the case to require the Village to provide representation….

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Fire Chief Cannot Be Sued Individually In Title VII Civil Rights Case

Tony McMillian is a firefighter working for the District of Columbia Fire & Emergency Medical Services Department. McMillian filed a broad-based discrimination lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, alleging that he was the victim of race discrimination. McMillian sued the District, the Department, and the Fire Chief, both in the Chief’s official role and in his personal capacity. A court dismissed all of McMillian’s claims except…

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