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Disciplinary Matrix Subordinate To ‘Just Cause” Provision In Contract

The City of Findlay, Ohio and the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association are parties to a collective bargaining agreement. Sergeant David Hill has worked for the Findlay Police Department since 1999. On July 6, 2012, Hill helped to create a video of him using a taser against the son of a fellow officer. The video violated the Department’s social media policy. As a result, the Department issued Hll a written…

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In Non-Union Environment, Following Lieutenant’s Instructions Can Lead To Termination

A basic tenet of the principle of “just cause” for discipline is that public safety employees are expected to follow the instructions of their supervisors, except if doing so would result in the employee unnecessarily endangering his/her safety or in violating the law. A recent case from Mississippi shows that in a non-union environment – where the principles of “just cause” do not apply – following a supervisor’s instructions…

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In Denver, Burden Of Proof In Discipline Cases Is On Officer

Labor issues in Colorado are handled under a patchwork quilt of laws. Firefighters are covered by a statewide bargaining law; police and sheriffs are not, and where law enforcement bargaining occurs, it is pursuant to local charter provisions and ordinances. Some local charters have broad definitions of what is negotiable, while others contain narrow lists of bargainable topics. Denver falls in the latter category, and a topic that has…

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Suicide Attempt Can Be Just Cause For Discharge

Cletus Morton was a probation and parole officer for the Missouri Department of Corrections. On the evening of October 8, 2010, Morton was watching his seven-year-old daughter when he consumed between one-half and three-quarters of a 750 ML bottle of vodka. Morton’s behavior around his daughter caused her to call her mother, Morton’s ex-wife, and ask to be picked up because she did not want to stay with Morton….

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North Carolina Court Takes Three-Step Approach To ‘Just Cause’

John Warren was a sergeant for the North Carolina State Highway Patrol. In 2007, Warren stowed an open bottle of vodka in the trunk of his Patrol-issued vehicle and drove to a party. He could have used his personal vehicle, but he elected not to because he was concerned that he would wake his aunt (with whom he was residing at the time) in an effort to get the…

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Commanders Can Be Demoted Without Just Cause

Robin Hoey joined Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department in 1985. Over the next nineteen years, he was progressively promoted to the positions of lieutenant, captain, inspector, and, in 2004, to commander of the Department’s Sixth District. On April 19, 2007, newly-appointed Chief of Police Cathy Lanier informed Hoey that she was returning him to the rank of captain and reassigning him to other duties. At no point has Chief…

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Parties Made Contract Retroactive Unless Specific Exceptions Made

The 2003-2005 collective bargaining agreement between Lake County, Michigan and the Police Officers Association of Michigan contained a typical “just cause” disciplinary clause. As of the contract’s expiration on December 31, 2005, no agreement had been reached to extend the term or provisions of the contract. The parties reached a tentative agreement in May 2006. The tentative agreement stated that except for the enumerated changes listed in the tentative…

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City Of Seattle Sues City Of Seattle, Loses

Richard Roberson is a police officer for the City of Seattle, and has a “significant disciplinary history.” In 2005, the City imposed a 30-day suspension on Roberson for three incidents. The first incident involved Roberson’s failure to properly follow up on a theft call because he mistakenly believed that “there’s no such crime as attempted theft.” The second incident dealt with allegations that Roberson had mishandled and failed to…

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Employer Bears Burden Of Proof In Disciplinary Case

Kimberly Falk worked for the Lee County, Florida Sheriff’s Department. When her employment was terminated, she appealed to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Civil Service Board. The Board affirmed her termination, and Falk appealed to the Florida Court of Appeals. The Court reversed Falk’s termination, finding that the Civil Service Board applied the wrong burden of proof. The Court ruled that “where an agency terminates an employee for certain…

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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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