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Employer Not Allowed To Prorate Vacation Based On Workers’ Compensation Leave

When two corrections officers for the Cayuga County, New York Sheriff’s Department went off on workers’ compensation illnesses, the County prorated their vacation accrual based upon the time the officers were off the payroll while on workers’ compensation leave. The proration produced a grievance, which was eventually referred to an arbitrator. The Arbitrator granted the grievance, concluding that there was “no question that an employee on workers’ compensation leave…

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SLAPP Law Bars Firefighter’s Lawsuit

Massachusetts is one of many states that has adopted the commonly referred to anti-SLAPP laws. SLAPP is an acronym for “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.” The notion behind the anti-SLAPP laws is to protect citizens from lawsuits designed to chill their constitutional right to petition the government for redress of grievances. SLAPP suits have been characterized as “generally meritless suits brought by large private interests to deter common citizens…

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No Public Policy Prevents Reinstatement Of Officer Convicted Of Misdemeanor

Martin Stumpf, a police officer with the City of Highland Park, Illinois, was found guilty of one count of criminal trespass to a vehicle, a Class A misdemeanor, after an off-duty encounter with another motorist. The City subsequently terminated Stumpf because of his conviction. Stumpf’s labor organization, Local 714 of the Teamster Union, challenged Stumpf’s termination in arbitration. An arbitrator ruled that, based on Stumpf’s long and positive work…

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Court Finds That “A Promise Is A Promise” In Striking Down Ordinance Reducing Retirement Benefits

The City of Cranston, Rhode Island collectively bargains with Local 301 of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers and Local 1363 of the International Association of Fire Fighters. Both the City’s police and fire contracts contain provisions over pension benefits. In addition to the contracts, the City has codified in ordinances the pension benefits to be granted officers upon their retirement. Fiscal instability in the City’s pension plans began…

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State Trooper Cannot Sue Department Of Transportation For On-The-Job Injuries

Virtually all workers’ compensation statutes have “exclusivity” provisions, sometimes referred to as “workers’ compensation bars.” These provisions bar employees from bringing lawsuits against their employers for on-the-job injuries, and limit employees to the benefits available under workers’ compensation systems. Exclusivity provisions, which favor employers, are generally thought to be a trade-off for the fact that workers’ compensation laws do not require employees to prove an employer’s fault or negligence…

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Forty Years Later, Officer Recovers Wages Withheld From Paycheck

Martin Rauscher worked as a police officer for the Lincoln, Nebraska Police Department during two separate time periods. His initial employment began in April 1962 and continued until March 31, 1963, when he terminated his employment. He rejoined the Department in late summer 1965 and retired in 2001. When he retired, Rauscher filed a wage claim against the City. Rauscher explained that upon rejoining the City’s police force on…

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Court Reinstates Arbitrator’s Opinion On Purchase Of Military Credits

In 1989, the City of Pawtucket, Rhode Island and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) added a clause to their collective bargaining agreement entitled “Armed Service and Municipal Service Credit.” The clause allowed the purchase of up to four years of activity military service for the purposes of accumulating retirement credits. The clause provided that “the cost to purchase said retirement credits shall be 10% of the employee’s first…

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Reversing State Labor Board, New York Court Finds No Right To Union Representation In Criminal Interviews

The Rochester Police Locust Club is the labor organization for the City of Rochester, New York’s police officers. The Club filed two improper employer practice charges against the City arising from two unrelated criminal investigations that were instituted after officers discharged their weapons in the course of their duties. The Club alleged that the City improperly prohibited the officers from consulting with their Club representatives prior to being interviewed…

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Massachusetts Corrections Officer Wins $500,000 In “Code Of Silence” Retaliation Lawsuit

Bruce Baron began working as a corrections officer at the Suffolk County, Massachusetts House of Correction in 1995. On January 27, 1997, while Baron was on duty, he and a supervisor, Sergeant Walsh, observed over a television monitor that another officer, Sergeant William Curtis, was playing cards with inmates in violation of the institution’s policies. Walsh ordered Baron to call a deputy superintendent to the unit and show him…

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Union May Waive Right To Bargain If It Does Not Monitor Employer’s Rule Changes

The Fraternal Order of Transit Police (FOTP) negotiates for police officers employed by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). Effective May 19, 2002, SEPTA issued a rule providing that an officer could be excused from a mandatory physical fitness examination for illness or injury. However, the order also provided that officers who failed to report for their examination claiming illness or injury “shall not report for duty without a…

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No Right To “Name-Clearing” Hearing When Employer Gives No Reason For Termination

When the Riverside County, California Sheriff’s Department terminated Coy Bradstreet, a probationary employee, it simply placed a notice of termination in his personnel file. The notice gave no reason for the termination decision. Bradstreet and his labor organization, the Riverside Sheriff’s Association, sued the County seeking a “name-clearing” hearing under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Bradstreet’s lawsuit. The…

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Criminal Trial Satisfies Employer’s Due Process Obligations

In a rather stunning decision, a federal court of appeals has found that a criminal trial to which an employer is not a party can satisfy an employer’s need to provide due process to an employee in an employment situation. The case involved Kraig Graham, a probationary police officer with the City of Philadelphia. On November 1, 2001, the Department received a complaint that Graham was “having sex with…

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Arbitrator Reinstates Officer Fired For Not Answering Questions About Killing Her Husband

On Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2000, while off duty, an officer with the City of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida was involved in an altercation with her husband in their bedroom during which she shot and killed him. She was arrested that day. While in custody at the City of Riviera Police Department, she told her Police Chief and Palm Beach County detectives that she was being beaten up, that…

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Supreme Court Rules For Employer In Age Discrimination Police Pay Dispute

On October 1, 1998, the City of Jackson, Mississippi adopted a pay plan granting raises to all City employees. The stated purpose of the plan was to “attract and retain qualified people, provide incentive for performance, maintain competitiveness with other public sector agencies, and ensure equitable compensation to all employees regardless of age, sex, race, and/or disability.” On May 1, 1999, the City revised the plan which was motivated,…

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Grievance Procedure, Standing Alone, Does Not Create Property Right In Job

David Conley was a police officer for the Town of Elkton, Virginia. In the Spring of 2003, Conley made several statements regarding the Police Department to the Chief and the Mayor. Conley complained about another officer who used his police radio for personal matters after work. The officer frequently called the Department in an intoxicated state and demanded that Conley drive him home. Conley also complained about the lack…

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Paid Time Off For Partial Day Absences And Maintaining “Exempt” Employee Status

By John O’donnell And R. Brian Dixon February 2005 On January 7, 2005, the U.S Department of Labor (DOL) issued an Opinion Letter confirming that employers may deduct less than a full day from a salaried, overtime-exempt white-collar employee’s paid timed off (PTO) bank for absences due to personal reasons, accident, or illness, without causing the loss of the exempt status of the employee. This opinion letter confirms what…

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Deputy’s Inability To Get Along With Co-Workers Does Not State ADA Claim

Susan Lanman began working for Johnson County, Kansas as a deputy sheriff in 1987. Beginning in March 2001, Lanman believed that some of her co-workers in the Classification Unit began treating her as if she were mentally ill, sometimes calling her “nuts” or “crazy.” Lanman claimed that when someone “hyped up on drugs” or “hostile” would be placed in a special holding cell (1A4), Deputy Judd Brungardt would tell…

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Supreme Court To Decide Two FLSA Lawsuits

The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear appeals in two cases that involve the question of what time is compensable as “hours worked” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The cases could set new standards for the compensability of “preliminary time.” In the first of the cases, employees of a meatpacking plant in Maine sought compensation for the time they spent walking to retrieve and return…

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Will The Class Action Fairness Act Impact Public Safety Overtime Lawsuits?

By Mark Crabtree, Attorney In February 2005, Congress passed the Class Action Fairness Act in an effort to halt large, multi-plaintiff lawsuits in state courts. Although the Act is aimed primarily at products liability and consumer class actions, questions have arisen as to whether the Act will play a role in wage and hour litigation filed by public safety officers in state courts. For technical reasons, the answer is…

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