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Court Finds Brain Injury Is Not Physical Incapacitation

While he was on duty on August 12, 2014, Baltimore Police Officer Carlos Couret-Rios was in a car that was rear-ended. His head snapped forward and back and he briefly lost consciousness. When he regained consciousness and got out of the car, he experienced severe vertigo. A physician diagnosed him with post-concussion syndrome and prescribed vestibular therapy to improve his balance and reduce the problems related to dizziness. While…

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Failure To Follow Through On Alcohol Treatment Legitimate Basis For Discipline

While working as an Omaha Police Department (OPD) officer, Jason Christensen sought leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to get treatment for his alcoholism. He was granted FMLA leave in April 2015, until he exhausted his leave on or about July 18, 2015. Christensen sought voluntary inpatient alcohol treatment at Valley Hope of Omaha, an addiction treatment center, from April 26, 2015, through May 17, 2015….

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Iowa Collective Bargaining Cuts Upheld By Court

In 2017, Iowa moved to a “Quadruple R” political status, with Republicans holding the governorship, both houses of the legislature, and a majority of state supreme court justices. Very quickly thereafter – the process took little more than a month – the legislature adopted, and the Governor signed a bill drastically cutting back on public employee collective bargaining rights. The legislation drew a line between unions representing a bargaining…

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‘Do Not Apply’ Alert Is Protected Union Speech

In March 2016, then-interim Santa Maria, California Fire Chief Scott Kenley first raised the possibility with the Santa Maria Firefighters Association (SMFA) of running an open recruitment for the position of captain, which would allow people who were not already employees of the fire department to apply for the position. Kenley cited low interest and few applications among internal candidates as the reasons for the idea. The fire department…

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Same-Sex Partner Loses Claim For Survivor Benefits

Debra Lee Anderson and Deborah Cady were committed partners who worked for the Rapid City Police Department in South Dakota. Cady retired from the Department in May 2012. The couple married on July 19, 2015. Cady passed away on March 10, 2017. Upon Cady’s passing, Anderson applied for spousal survivor benefits under Cady’s retirement plan with the South Dakota Retirement System. The System denied Anderson’s application claiming Anderson and…

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Wearing Protective Mask Reasonable Accommodation For Corrections Officer

Monica Berry worked for the Illinois Department of Corrections as a corrections officer at the Logan Correctional Center. In February 2013, the Department granted her leave under the Family Medical Leave Act due to her asthma, which rendered her partially unable to do her job. Her asthma was exacerbated by potential irritants, specifically pepper spray. Although Berry was never exposed to the spray at work, it was used with…

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Speech About Firefighter’s Fitness Not Constitutionally Protected

Dr. Nancy King worked under contract for Polk County, Florida and for fifteen years was the primary person responsible for determining whether firefighter applicants were medically qualified. Ordinarily, King would rely on a national standard known as NFPA 1582 to determine if the candidate was capable of performing the tasks of a firefighter. She would then make a recommendation to the County. King’s lawsuit revolved around one applicant, “J,”…

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Permanent Inability To Return To Work Is Fatal

Isaiah Cardinale was an officer with the police department in Nutley Township, New Jersey. In December 2013, Cardinale submitted to a random drug test. Two days later, Cardinale admitted to using cocaine. The Department immediately suspended him pending the results of the test, and Cardinale successfully completed drug and alcohol treatment in Florida. In February 2014, the toxicology report demonstrated that he had tested positive for cocaine. The Department…

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Firefighter Wins $750k In Retaliation Case

Jesse Diaz was a firefighter for Trenton, New Jersey. Diaz, who is Hispanic, was well-regarded by his colleagues and supervisors, and he enjoyed their camaraderie and support. That changed after Diaz overheard a white firefighter named Plumeri use a racist term in reference to an African-American colleague. Although the colleague was not present, Diaz thought that the incident was serious, and that Plumeri should be disciplined for using racist…

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Firing Of Former Sheriff’s Wife Does Not Violate The First Amendment

Tamela Muir, Bert Muir, and Ben Boswell worked for the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) in Iowa. Tamela began working for the DCSO in November 1996 as a jailer and dispatcher. Her employment was at-will. Bert started working for the DCSO on March 19, 1998, when he was elected Sheriff. He hired Boswell as a Deputy Sheriff in September 2001. Tamela and Bert were married in January 2008, and…

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HIPAA Forms Can Violate Americans With Disabilities Act

John Nawara is a corrections officer with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office in Illinois. From 2002 to 2007, he was on a special team in the Cook County Jail called the Special Operations Response Team (SORT). After members of SORT supported a candidate who challenged Sheriff Tom Dart in the primary election, SORT was disbanded. Twenty-one members of SORT, including Nawara, successfully sued the County and Dart. By late…

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Discharge Not Excessive For Off-Duty, Alcohol-Influenced Shots Fired At Another Deputy

Judith Diaz was a deputy sheriff with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. On October 13, 2011, Diaz went out for drinks with a friend and fellow deputy, Stephanie Hile. The two were joined by a third deputy, Adrienne Myers. The three had drinks at two different locations until closing time. All three left in Hile’s car. According to Diaz, Myers was driving. Myers said that Hile was driving;…

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How Miranda and Garrity Relate To One Another

In 2016, the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) initiated an investigation into allegations of corruption within its Narcotics Bureau. In an effort to ascertain the identity of the purportedly corrupt law enforcement officers, the Criminal Conspiracy Section of the Department’s Professional Compliance Bureau orchestrated a clandestine sting operation. Investigators rented a motel room and designated an undercover police officer from the Orlando Police Department to pose as a drug peddler….

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Interview On The FMLA With Stacy Bunck and John Stretton

Will interviews attorneys Stacy Bunck and John Stretton of the management-side law firm Ogletree-Deakins on the Family And Medical Leave Act. They cover the basics of the FMLA, what the employer’s obligations and responsibilities are with respect to things such as health insurance and payment of premiums, life and disability insurance, accrual of paid leave, seniority, promotions and more. The attorney analyze the case of Mary Flowers (Flowers v….

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Staffing Grievance Is Arbitrable

The Watertown Firefighters Association in New York filed a grievance contending that the City violated provisions in its labor agreement relating to minimum staffing levels for shifts and regular operations within the City of Watertown’s Fire Department. The City refused to proceed to arbitration, contending that the staffing clauses were “unenforceable job security provisions that violate public policy.” A New York court ordered the City to submit to arbitration….

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The Time Frame For Filing A PTSD Claim

Benjamin Pitts was a police officer with the City of Chandler, Arizona. In May 2013, Pitts was on duty in his patrol vehicle with his fiancée, who was participating in a ride-along. That evening, Pitts received a call that there was a man acting in a disorderly manner and possibly brandishing a gun outside Chandler Regional Hospital. The dispatcher told Pitts the man was walking up the road with…

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Officer ‘Public Official’ For Purposes Of Defamation Lawsuit

In a case involving Officer Frank Fones of the Montgomery County Police Department, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals began its opinion by writing that “this is, at its core, an employment dispute that seeks an encore as a defamation claim.” Fones served as a canine officer for about twenty years. He was transferred out of that unit after a series of events involving his assigned police canine, Chip….

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Court Upholds Arbitrator’s Opinion Reinstating Officer Who Installed Hidden Cameras

Officer Daniel Wagner works for the Aurora, Illinois Police Department. Wagner and his wife Lisa were divorced in July 2016. Wagner and Lisa have two children: a six-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son. During the divorce proceedings, Wagner lived in the marital home in Sugar Grove. Afterward, Lisa retained the property and Wagner moved out. However, Lisa permitted Wagner to have access to the home, to help with maintenance,…

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Granting Benefits To Management Employees Can Violate Union’s Rights

The United Chief Officers Association is the exclusive bargaining representative for the 10-13 battalion chiefs in the Contra Costa County Fire District. Although the fire marshal and fire training chief classifications are unrepresented, these positions have traditionally been regarded as lateral peers of the battalion chiefs and received comparable pay and benefits. The District is a separate entity from Contra Costa County; however, the County’s Board of Supervisors serves…

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Officer Loses Pension On Conviction For Fraud

Joseph Deignan was a police officer with the Town of Watertown, Massachusetts. Under a Massachusetts statute, members of the state retirement system lose their pensions “after final conviction of a criminal offense involving violation of the laws applicable to his office or position.” Under a series of cases, Massachusetts courts have ruled that for pension forfeiture to occur, there must be a direct link between the criminal offense and…

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Anti-Union Animus, Not Profanity, True Basis For Firing

Teamsters Local 261 represents the corrections officers working for Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. Before being represented by Local 261, the bargaining unit was represented by the Laborers Union, which disclaimed interest in the bargaining unit on January 19, 2017, following expiration of the collective bargaining agreement on December 31, 2016. Corrections officer Kevin Boston was instrumental in the bargaining unit affiliating with Local 261 and served on Local 261’s bargaining…

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County Cannot Terminate Widow’s Workers’ Compensation Death Benefit

On December 27, 2010, while working as a Fort Bend County Deputy Sheriff, John Norsworthy swerved to avoid road debris that had fallen off a flatbed delivery truck owned and operated by SBS/Bison Building Materials and driven by Morris Crosby. John suffered fatal injuries. The County initiated workers’ compensation benefits, paying one week of temporary income benefits of $689.47, medical benefits of $215,011.87, and after his death on January…

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DROP Benefits Can Be Prospectively Reduced

The Dallas Police and Fire Pension System (DROP) provides comprehensive retirement, death, and disability benefits for some 9,300 Dallas police officers, firefighters, pensioners, and qualified survivors. Officers and firefighters automatically become System members when they enter the training academy. While in active service, they and the City of Dallas contribute to their accounts. A member reaching retirement age can leave active service and begin drawing a monthly annuity based…

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California Supreme Court Ducks (For Now) Major Retirement Question But Allows End To ‘Air Time’

Employers and unions across California had been waiting anxiously for the California Supreme Court’s decision in a case involving Cal Fire Local 2881 of the IAFF. The Court was expected to address two issues – the “California Rule” and “air time.” The most important of the two issues was the continued viability of what has long been known as the California Rule. Under the California Rule, retirement benefits for…

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Lengthy Placement On Administrative Leave Violates Past Practice

On December 2, 2015, five officers with the San Francisco Police Department were involved in an officer-involved shooting (OIS) in which a young man, Mario Woods, was killed. This shooting occurred in the midst of a period of intense scrutiny and became highly publicized as well as the subject of interest from the news media, social media, various communities, and the family and friends of Woods. The Department transferred…

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