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Bill Of Rights Statute Of Limitations Stops Running When Employee Is Fired

Carlos Sanchez was a detective for the Los Angeles Police Department. In 2003, Sanchez was served with a multi-count disciplinary charge, including allegations that he maintained an improper relationship with a drug dealer, that he failed to notify his commanding officer of an informant he was utilizing, that he improperly purchased a motorcycle from a known informant, and that he released confidential documents and information to an informant. During…

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‘Private Dishonesty,’ Off-Duty Sex, And Discipline

An FBI special agent given the pseudonym of “John Doe” in court proceedings worked as a special agent pilot near an FBI office in Ohio. While Doe was off duty, he had consensual sex with a female member of the FBI’s support staff, whom he was dating. Doe and the woman videotaped their sexual encounters, at her suggestion. Doe also videotaped separate consensual sexual relations at his residence with…

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Six-Year Delay In Resolving Disciplinary Charges Does Not Violate Due Process

Russell Cope worked as a Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper for 35 years when he was terminated in 2006. Cope’s termination was based upon his handling of a traffic stop on May 30, 2000. Cope challenged his termination through the court system arguing, among other things, that the six-year delay between the incident and the bringing of charges against him violated his due process rights. The Tennessee Court of Appeals…

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Firefighter Involved In Significant Case Dealing With Mandatory Medical Releases

Robert Martin has been employed for over 34 years by the Fire and Rescue Department of the City of St. Petersburg, Florida. For the past 21 years, he has held the rank of lieutenant. The collective bargaining agreement between the City and Martin’s labor organization, Local 747 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, requires employees to undergo an annual physical examination. For the past ten years, these annual…

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No Property Interest In Commander’s Position In Chicago PD

John Matthews was a commander with the Chicago Police Department. In 2006, Matthews’ son was arrested, and despite being injured, was not promptly offered medical attention for his injuries. Following his son’s arrest, Matthews filed a complaint in an effort to initiate an investigation of the arresting officers. Subsequent to Matthews filing that complaint, a disciplinary complaint was filed against him. When he was demoted from the rank of…

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Extensive Disciplinary Procedures Do Not Create Property Right To Job

Carey Faulkner was employed by the City of Bartlett, Tennessee as a police officer beginning in 1999. On August 18, 2007, Faulkner held a party at her home which was attended by neighbors and police officer trainees. Drinking and nude swimming took place at the party, and Faulkner’s husband was subsequently charged with sexually assaulting one of the party guests. The local media reported about Faulkner’s party and previous…

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California Bill of Rights Applies Even Where Officers Are Cleared

Robert and Scarlett Paterson are Los Angeles police officers, married to each other. In December 2004, Robert called in sick. A lieutenant instructed Sergeant Adrian Legaspi to go to the Paterson home to find out if Robert was abusing sick leave. Legaspi spoke to both Robert and Scarlett. Subsequently, the Department initiated an investigation into misconduct complaints alleging that Robert and Scarlett had made false and misleading statements to…

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No ‘Involuntary Disability Exception’ To Bill Of Rights

California’s Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act provides that “no punitive action” shall be undertaken against a public safety officer “without providing the public safety officer with an opportunity for administrative appeal.” The California Court of Appeals recently had to resolve whether the requirement for a hearing applies even to placement on involuntary disability status. The case involved Leisha Fauth, a peace officer with Riverside County, California….

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When Are Disciplinary Conversations With A City Attorney Privileged?

Jeffrey Dzierbicki was a police officer with the Township of Oscoda, Michigan. In July 2007, Dzierbicki brought a lawsuit against the Township and its Police Chief. While the lawsuit was pending, Dzierbicki engaged in conduct that resulted in a disciplinary investigation by the Department. Since Dzierbicki had litigation pending, the Township’s attorney was brought into the discussion as to whether Dzierbicki should be terminated. The meeting was attended by…

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Settlement Agreement Does Not Allow Officer To Prospectively Commit Misconduct

Tatiana Cabrera-Renne was a police officer with the City of Paterson, New Jersey. Cabrera-Renne brought a discrimination lawsuit against the City. She and the City eventually reached a settlement agreement of the lawsuit. Under the terms of the settlement, Carera-Renne would return to work until the City paid her a lump sum of $215,000. Thereafter, Cabrera-Renne and the City would abandon and release all pending actions against each other,…

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Fire Captain Who Opposed Affirmative Action For Women Wins $3.75 Million From LAFD

Frank Lima was a captain in the Los Angeles Fire Department. By almost any account, Lima’s career was exemplary. He graduated as the top recruit in his firefighter class in 1992, when he was only 19 years of age. He moved rapidly through the ranks, and became the youngest Fire Captain I in the Department. When promotions were later made to the position of Fire Captain II, Lima became…

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New Disciplinary Standards Must Be Negotiated

Employers who operate in a collective bargaining environment are restricted in their ability to make changes in past practices in the areas that are “mandatory” for collective bargaining. Mandatory subjects of bargaining are typically set by state statute, and are usually captured by some version of the rubric “wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment.” Where a topic is a mandatory subject of bargaining, the employer is not…

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Employer Required To Disclose Pre-Disciplinary Interviews And Identity Of Witnesses

In October 2004, Local 2898 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, which represents rank-and-file employees of the Seattle Fire Department filed a grievance on behalf of a bargaining unit member alleging that the employer imposed discipline without just cause. The grievance eventually proceeded to arbitration. Prior to the arbitration hearing, Local 2898 requested that the City provide it with full disclosure of the names of all individuals interviewed…

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Court Reinstates Sergeant’s Demotion

A clear example of a difference between appealing discipline through a civil service system and appealing discipline through arbitration can be found in a recent case involving Santa Cruz County, California. When discipline is appealed through arbitration, court review is extremely limited, and typically focusing only on whether the arbitrator exceeded his or her jurisdiction in issuing an opinion. It is extremely rare for an arbitrator’s disciplinary opinion to…

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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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Internal Memoranda On Discipline Not Subject To Disclosure

Florida’s equivalent of the Freedom of Information Act, known as the “Sunshine Law,” is one of the most expansive in the nation. With very few exceptions, the Sunshine Law requires that all governmental documents be made public. The extent of the Sunshine Law was recently tested in a case involving the discipline of eight deputies employed by the Lee County, Florida Sheriff’s Department. Each of the deputies was the…

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Trooper Improperly Suspended For Engaging In Union Activity

Scott Nichols has been a trooper with the Michigan State Police (MSP) for 19 ½ years, and has been the representative for the Michigan State Police Troopers Association at the Lansing post. In 2007, the MSP was considering a reorganization plan that would have transferred part of Clinton County, Michigan away from the Lansing post. Nichols was critical of the plan. At one point, Nichols gave a television interview…

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California Supreme Court Decides Major Garrity Case

The California Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Spielbauer v. County of Santa Clara. The first major interpretation of the rule on Garrity v. New Jersey by the California Supreme Court in many years, Spielbauer reverses a lower court decision that had held that a formal grant of immunity is necessary before a public employee may be compelled to give a statement about job-related conduct that has criminal…

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Criminal Investigation Tolls Statute Of Limitations Even On Non-Criminal Charges

Jerry Lucio was a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. In the course of his duties, Lucio met a woman who had attempted to commit suicide. Two months later, Lucio, who had just broken up with his girlfriend, went to the woman’s residence and began a personal relationship and subsequent intimate relationship with her. After several months, the woman called Internal Affairs, complaining that Lucio had threatened…

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Suspended Corrections Officers Not Entitled To Accrue Leave Beyond Contract’s Limits

The Michigan Department of Corrections suspended two corrections officers with pay pending investigation into whether they had had sexual contact with inmates. While the officers were on suspension, they continued to accrue annual leave under the terms of the contract. The suspensions lasted long enough that the officers’ accrual of annual leave would have placed them above the “caps” for annual leave contained in the contract. When the Department…

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Arbitrator Has Authority To Award Two Years Of Missed Overtime To Officer

The Town of Wallkill, New York, placed a police officer on modified duty after his involvement in an incident that had possible disciplinary ramifications. One of the restrictions on the officer was that he not be allowed to work overtime. The officer’s labor organization, the Town of Wallkill Police Benevolent Association, challenged the Town’s decision in arbitration. An arbitrator agreed with the Association, and not only ordered that the…

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Major Garrity Decision Out Of California Has Far-Reaching Implications For Disciplinary Investigations

Potentially the most important case in 40 years interpreting Garrity v. New Jersey was decided on January 12, 2007, by the California Court of Appeals. If the reasoning of the decision is adopted by other states, it will fundamentally alter the way disciplinary investigations are conducted. Thomas Spielbauer was employed as a public defender by Santa Clara County, California. Spielbauer became the subject of a disciplinary investigation into charges…

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