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Motorcycle Crash Not ‘Accident’

New York’s disability and retirement system gives greater benefits to officers and firefighters who are disabled as a result of an “accident.” Over the years, New York courts have defined an “accident” as a “sudden, fortuitous mischance, unexpected and out of the ordinary. An accident will not be found when the event precipitating the injury is a risk of the applicant’s ordinary employment duties.” Paul Grutzner was a police…

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African-American Officers Lose Challenge To ‘No-Beards’ Policy

After researching the issue for some time, the Houston Police Department selected the Scott Promask 40 respirator for all patrol officers. Once it was decided that bearded officers could not use the mask, the Department revised its grooming policy to prohibit beards on any uniformed officer, regardless of his medical condition. Under the revised policy, if a uniformed officer is unable to shave, for medical reasons, he is transferred…

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Diabetic Applicant Wins $100,000 from FBI

Jeffrey Kapche is a Type 1 diabetic. In 2002, he applied for a special agent position with the FBI. Kapche received a conditional offer of employment in 2004, but it was later revoked because the FBI determined that he did not have sufficient control over his diabetes, and that he would be unable to take on certain responsibilities of the position. Kapche sued under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973,…

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EEOC Issues Long-Awaited ADA Guidelines

Approximately one year after former President Bush signed the Americans With Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), the EEOC has finally issued proposed regulations and an Interpretive Guidance for public comment. As expected, the new regulations make significant changes in how certain terms under the ADA are defined, which certainly will give rise to more disability claims. Here is a summary of the most significant changes and guidance to the…

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Officer Who Accidentally Killed Fellow Officer Wins PTSD Disability

On March 25, 2005, members of the Easton, Pennsylvania Police Department SWAT team, including Matthew Renninger and Officer Jesse Sollman, returned to the Easton Police Department after a day of SWAT training and began breaking down and cleaning various weapons used that day. Renninger took his firearm, a 40-caliber handgun, out of his holster and placed it on a bench in the locker room. Renninger placed the gun on…

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City Required To Bargain Over Change In Pension Board Rule

Firefighters working for the City of Portland, Oregon Fire Bureau are members of Local 43 of the International Association of Fire Fighters. Most Local 43 members are covered by the City’s Fire and Police Disability and Retirement Fund, which is governed by an appointed board. In 2006, the Disability Fund and the Fire Bureau notified approximately 16 medically-restricted firefighters that they had been selected to participate in a new…

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Firing Alcoholic Police Chief Does Not Violate ADA

Charles Budde was the Police Chief for the Kane County Forest Preserve in Illinois. On the evening of March 11, 2005, while off duty, Budde rear-ended another car, damaging his own vehicle and sending the passengers of the other car to the hospital. An investigation ensued. Budde admitted that he was an alcoholic who would drink virtually every evening when he returned home from work until he passed out…

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Flurry Of New Laws/Regulations Has Employers Scurrying To Come Into Compliance

The last 12 months have seen what is certainly the most active period of federal employment legislation and regulation changes in the last 25 years. A spate of new laws – with more likely to arrive in upcoming months – has left employers scrambling to comply. The deluge started on May 21, 2008, when President Bush signed into law the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). GINA prohibits employers from…

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Trooper’s Depression Results From Failure To Do Job, Not Disciplinary Investigation

James Thomas began working as a trooper for the Maryland State Police (MSP) in 1971. After he suffered a series of panic attacks while on the road from 1978 to 1980, he was transferred to MSP’s Automotive Safety Enforcement Division, after which the panic attacks ceased. In 2000, MSP adopted new procedures for the auditing of vehicle inspection stations. Though Thomas was aware of the new procedures, he failed…

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Sergeant Loses Lawsuit Over Batmobile

A mobile office for the anti-drunk driving unit of the West Virginia State Police is known as the “Batmobile.” On September 20, 2005, Sergeant David Hawkins was working as a sergeant in the Batmobile. When Hawkins was routinely exiting the Batmobile with a cape slung over his shoulder, the cape caught on a hook-shaped latch on the vehicle, yanking him backwards and herniating three discs in his back. Hawkins…

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Moving Fire Hose Not Accidental Injury

Like some other states, New York’s workers’ compensation system grants public safety officers a higher disability retirement if the disability is caused by an “accident.” New York courts have defined an accident as a “sudden, fortuitous mischance, unexpected, out of the ordinary, and injurious in impact.” Raymond Baron is a firefighter with Village of Mamaroneck Fire Department. On November 11, 2002, Baron responded to a structure fire. As he…

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