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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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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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No First Amendment Right To Complain About Dissatisfaction With Job

Daniel Prince is a deputy sheriff who works for the Monroe County, New York Sheriff’s Department. Prince filed a federal court lawsuit alleging that he was retaliated against for raising claims of on-the-job harassment. In particular, Prince alleged that a sergeant referred to him as a “mother fucker, little bitch, pussy-ass bitch, faggot, and a whining little fag.” A federal court dismissed the lawsuit. Quoting from a Supreme Court…

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The Fear Of Retribution Not A Constructive Discharge

Randy Goff was an assistant chief of police for the City of Somerset, Kentucky. Goff supported the opponent to Eddie Girdler in the mayoral race in 2006. When Girdler won, he told the Police Chief of his intent to punish Goff and others for their support of the mayor’s opponent. Goff immediately began to examine his options. A lawyer who met with Goff advised him that he would have…

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Policy Prohibiting Criticism By Supervisors Has Both Labor Relations And Constitutional Dimensions

The Town of Sanford, Maine Police Department issued a new rule that prohibited supervisors from criticizing Department policies and procedures in the presence of subordinates. The Sanford Police Association filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the Maine Labor Relations Board, contending that the new rule unlawfully interfered with the exercise of protected rights by bargaining unit members. The Board rejected the Town’s request that it dismiss the complaint….

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The Next Extension Of Garcetti: Employer Rules Forbidding Speech About Agency Matters

The reverberations from the Supreme Court’s decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006), are still being felt. In Garcetti, the Supreme Court held that to receive First Amendment protection, a public employee must speak “as a citizen on a matter of concern.” The Court ruled that speech arising out of an employee’s job is completely unprotected by the First Amendment, even if the content of the speech…

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Lieutenant’s Speech About Vacation Not Protected By First Amendment

Louis Van Cleef is a lieutenant with the Seneca County, New York Sheriff’s Department. In a federal court lawsuit, Van Cleef alleged that problems with his employer started in the fall of 2004 when Van Cleef, together with the undersheriff and other co-workers, was planning a non-work-related trip to Florida. Van Cleef alleged that the undersheriff obtained approval from the Sheriff to treat the Florida vacation as work-related training….

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Employer Allowed To Maintain ‘No-Rehire’ Policy

Jimmy Sain worked as a highway patrolman for the Tennessee Department of Public Safety (TDS). After deciding to run for mayor of Hardeman County, Sain resigned from his TDS position in order to comply with the Tennessee law providing that “a state or local officer or employee may not be a candidate for elective office.” Upon leaving, he met with his supervisor and the Human Resources manager for the…

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Giving Tickets Not Entitled To First Amendment Protection

Under the Supreme Court’s decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006), “where public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties, they are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes, and the Constitution does not insulate their communications from employer discipline.” Following Garcetti, dozens of courts have held unprotected by the First Amendment a variety of forms of job-related speech made by public safety employees. Zigmund…

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A Roundup Of Free Speech Cases

Reverberations from the Supreme Court’s decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006) continue to be felt in the area of the free speech rights of public employees. A series of recent cases shows continuing debate in the Court over when an employee’s job-related speech is protected by the First Amendment. As a general proposition, the right of a government employee to speak about matters of public concern…

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Privately-Made Statements About Morale Unprotected By First Amendment

Peter Dahl was a deputy sheriff for Rice County, Minnesota from November 1992 until the fall of 2006. During his employment with Rice County, Dahl was assigned to a multi-jurisdictional SWAT team, served as a firearms instructor, and served on a multi-jurisdictional drug task force. In August 2005, the Sheriff e-mailed Dahl to inquire about a purchase of badges that had been charged to Rice County. The Sheriff’s e-mail…

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Officer Can Be Constitutionally Forbidden From Participating In Explorer Scout Activities

Mark Frontera is a police officer with the City of Columbus, Ohio. Beginning in 1998, Frontera volunteered with the Explorer Scouts program. In 2004, the Department received a complaint that Frontera had acted inappropriately in his role as Explorer Scout advisor. The charges against Frontera included that he had allowed an Explorer Scout to spend the night at his home, that he failed to obey written orders with respect…

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