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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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