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Individual Must Be Employee For Union Interference Statute To Apply

A Florida statute makes it an unfair labor practice for a public employer to interfere with, restrain or coerce a “public employee” who is engaged in union activity. The Florida Court of Appeals, reversing a decision of Florida’s Public Employment Relations Board, found that an employer’s refusal to hire an applicant could not be covered by the statute. The case involved Jeffrey Stanley, who worked for the Broward County…

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Court Upholds Arbitrator’s Award Requiring Disciplinary Retraining Of Sheriff, Aides

Jan Bartleson became a Yakima County, Washington sheriff’s deputy in 1995. She generally received positive work reviews until January 2001, when she received a three-day suspension for an on-duty automobile accident. The Yakima County Law Enforcement Officers Guild filed a grievance and the suspension was reduced to one day. Thereafter, Bartleson’s relationship with Sheriff Ken Irwin began to deteriorate. Bartleson exhausted her paid leave due to a combination of…

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Court Upholds $1.6 Million Jury Award In Favor Of Los Angeles Firefighters In Dog Food/Pasta Case

In 2004, Chris Burton served as Captain II of Station 5 in the Los Angeles Fire Department. His immediate subordinate was John Tohill, who served as a Captain I. On October 14, 2004, several members of Station 5 played volleyball at the beach during the day. Tennie Pierce, who is African-American, played well and referred to himself as “the big dog.” When Tohill and the firefighters shopped for dinner,…

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Jury Finds Port Authority Discriminates Against Asian Police Officers

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is an agency created by agreement between the states of New York and New Jersey to develop transportation facilities in the New York metropolitan area. The Port Authority's 13 facilities are policed by the Port Authority's Public Safety Department. The Department's promotional process requires officers to have served two years as an officer or detective as of the date of…

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Treatment Of Other Firefighters Bolsters African-American Firefighter’s Discrimination Claim

Tiffanye Wesley is a firefighter with Arlington County, Virginia. After several years’ experience riding a fire truck, serving as a training center instructor and in other administrative roles, Wesley began the process of competing within the Department for the position of captain. Although she met all of the minimum objective criteria to be eligible for promotion, and had twice passed both a written test and an experiential assessment designed…

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Chicago’s Reasons For Failing To Hiring Muslim Officer Not Pretextual

Ricky Martinez is a Muslim male of Middle-Eastern origin. Martinez filed a federal court lawsuit alleging that the Chicago Police Department failed to hire him as a probationary police officer because of his religion. In dismissing Martinez’s claim, the Court applied the “indirect method of proof” test to Martinez’s claim. Under the test, if a plaintiff establishes a prima facie case by showing that he or she is a…

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Trooper Can Proceed With Marital Discrimination Claim

Stacy Jones Tucker was a “buck sergeant” for the Georgia State Patrol, assigned to the Hinesville post. Tucker began having problems at work in 2006 when she married Robbie Tucker, who operated a wrecker service and was on a referral list for the State Patrol. Prior to the marriage, Tucker knew that at least one of her supervisors possessed a low opinion of Robbie Tucker, based on a comment…

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GINA, New Discrimination Law, Became Effective In November 2009

By Christopher W. Olmsted The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) became effective on November 21, 2009. Generally, this federal law prohibits employers from acquiring or using genetic information about its employees, with certain exceptions. Who must comply with Title II of GINA? Title II is the section of GINA which regulates employers. It applies to private, state, and local government employers with 15 or more employees, employment agencies, labor…

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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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Border Patrol Agent Not Entitled To Additional Breaks To Express Breast Milk

Josephine Puente was employed as a Border Patrol agent with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the Ysleta Border Patrol Station facility in El Paso, Texas. In January 2000, Puente gave birth to a baby girl and elected to breast feed. She returned to full-duty status in March 2000. During her shift, Puente took breaks to express breast milk, which required her to leave her regular post, travel…

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Calling Female Officer ‘Darling’ Does Not Amount To Sexual Harassment

Stormy Magiera works for the Dallas, Texas Police Department. Magiera and a fellow officer, Sergeant Ingram, responded to a nightclub where they had heard a gunshot. Ingram became irritated at how Magiera was processing the scene, and asked her to “speed the process up and issue some people some tickets so they could get out of there.” To the contrary, Magiera believed that the responding officer should arrest some…

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‘Aren’t You Being Discriminatory’ Is Protected Activity Under ADA

Mary Casna was a police clerk for the City of Loves Park, Illinois. Casna suffers a hearing impairment resulting from chemotherapy and wears aids in both ears. Casna reported to Kay Eliot, the Chief’s secretary. Eliot kept a log in which she recorded Casna’s performance, and her comments were rarely favorable. Eliot noted that Casna took a long time to complete routine tasks and gossiped about coworkers. The tension…

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FDNY Hiring Test Ruled Illegally Discriminatory

There exists a significant racial disparity between the population of the City of New York and the makeup of the Fire Department of New York. In 2002, 25 percent of the city’s residents were black, and 27 percent were Hispanic. At the same time, 2.6 percent of FDNY firefighters were black, and 3.7 percent were Hispanic. The federal government sued the City of New York, contending that its entrance-level…

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Supreme Court Overturns New Haven’s Scrapping Of Firefighter Promotional Test

On the last day of its 2008-2009 term, the Supreme Court issued a long-awaited decision in a contentious lawsuit involving a promotional examination in the New Haven, Connecticut Fire Department. While the Court did not go as far as some believed – Justice Antonin Scalia, writing a concurring opinion, lamented that the Court had only postponed the “evil day” when it would be forced to consider the overall legality…

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Legal Alert: Supreme Court Rejects ‘Mixed Motive’ Age Discrimination Claims

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a decision that could have a significant impact on employers defending Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) claims. In Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc. (June 18, 2009), a 5-4 decision, the Court held that to win an ADEA claim, the individual claiming discrimination must prove that age was the “but-for” cause of the alleged adverse employment action – i.e., that the employer…

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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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Sexual Harassment Too Old To Be ‘Continuing’

Genevieve Drees has served both as a dispatcher and a detention employee for Suffolk County, New York. Drees brought a sex discrimination lawsuit against the County, contending that she was the victim of gender-based hostile work environment harassment, and that she had been retaliated against for raising a harassment issue. A federal court dismissed the first of the claims, finding the allegations barred by the statute of limitations. Drees…

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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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White Firefighter Wins Trial On Assignment To Fire Boat

Kevin Dumont is a white City of Seattle firefighter. The Fire Department is governed by what is colloquially referred to as the “rule of five,” in which the Fire Chief has the right to select from the five leading applicants for a position. Gary Morris was the Fire Chief from July 2001 until April 2004. In 41 of 45 instances, he promoted the top-scoring applicant on a Civil Service…

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Court Upholds $1.7 Million Judgment In Favor Of Firefighter

Lewis Bressler was a fire captain with the Los Angeles Fire Department for 26 years. With the exception of his first performance evaluation and his last performance evaluation, Bressler always received a “satisfactory” or “satisfactory plus” rating from his supervisors at LAFD. In 2001, Bressler received a report from a subordinate that another captain had made an inappropriate sexual comment about a firefighter’s wife. Bressler reported the comment to…

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Denial Of Light-Duty Assignment Not Necessarily An ‘Adverse Action’

In order to establish a discrimination claim, an individual must show that he or she belongs to a protected class, and that the employer took an “adverse employment action” against them because of their presence in the protected class. In lawsuits alleging retaliation against employees because the employees have participated in a discrimination lawsuit, an employment action is considered to be adverse if it is “harmful to the point…

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Police Chief Applicant Loses Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Vicky Arrington was hired by Alabama State University as a police investigator in 2002. In 2003, Arrington began serving as interim Chief of Police after the Chief and his second in command were deployed to Iraq. In 2005, the Chief’s position became open upon the retirement of the incumbent Chief. Arrington was one of the candidates for the permanent chief’s job. In the end, the vice president of the…

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Most Of Reverse Discrimination Verdict Upheld By Appeals Court

The tumultuous tenure of Arthur Jones as the Chief of the Milwaukee, Wisconsin Police Department continues to reverberate through the court system. Jones, who was Chief from 1996 to 2003, considered candidates for promotion to captain in a manner a federal appeals court later referred to as a “fairly amorphous and private process.” The City had no promotional procedures, and Jones testified he could not recall his thought processes…

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