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Controversial Former Milwaukee Police Chief Loses Race Discrimination Lawsuit

Arthur Jones, the former police chief for Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was one of the most controversial big-city police chiefs in the country during his brief tenure. Jones recently lost a lawsuit against the City in which he was seeking $2 million plus punitive damages on the allegations of racial discrimination. Jones was appointed Police Chief in November 1996 by the Fire and Police Commission. Jones was backed by John Norquist,…

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Officer Killed While Directing Traffic Covered By Federal Benefit

The Public Safety Officer’s Benefit Plan (PSOB) grants a line-of-duty death benefit to the estate of a “public safety officer” killed in the line of duty. A recent federal case addressed the questions of what types of individuals were covered as “public safety officers” and under what circumstances benefits should be paid. The case involved Mildred Cassella, who was employed by the City of Weirton, West Virginia as a…

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Lack Of Cost Estimates Invalidates Arbitrator’s Award

Under Pennsylvania law, an arbitration panel modifying pension plans must comply with certain requirements. In particular, an arbitrator’s award can only be based on evidence that includes, in part, “cost estimates of the effect of the proposed benefit plan modifications.” When Northampton Township and the Northampton Township Police Benevolent Association were unable to agree on the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement, they submitted the dispute to binding…

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Same-Sex Domestic Partners Win Claim For Benefits In Alaska

In 1998, the State of Alaska adopted what is commonly known as the “Marriage Amendment.” The Marriage Amendment provides that “to be valid or recognized in this state, a marriage may exist only between one man and one woman.” The Municipality of Anchorage and the State of Alaska offer a variety of benefits, including health insurance, to the spouses of employees but do not offer those benefits to unmarried…

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SUPREME COURT HOLDS PREPARATORY TIME COMPENSABLE UNDER FLSA

There is a complicated history of whether time spent in advance of the start of an employee’s workday is compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In one of its first FLSA decisions, Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co., 328 U.S. 680 (1946), the Supreme Court held that “work” under the FLSA included the time employees spent walking from time clocks near a factory entrance to their workstations….

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Fire Department Not Allowed To Take Blood Draws As Part Of Fitness Program

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) created the “Assistance to Firefighters’ Grant Program” to provide funding directly to fire departments for the purpose of protecting the health and safety of the public and firefighting personnel against fire and fire-related hazards. Grant funding was designated for six categories: Training, fitness program, vehicles, firefighting equipment, personnel protective equipment, and fire prevention programs. In the late 1990s, the Taylor, Michigan Fire Service…

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San Antonio Firefighter Loses DFR Claim Against Union

Employees suing their labor organizations for breach of duty of fair representation often learn that abbreviated statutes of limitation require the lawsuits to be filed in a short period of time. Such was the case with Joe Diaz, a paramedic with the City of San Antonio, Texas Fire Department. In June 1999, Diaz was suspended while under a criminal investigation. The letter suspending Diaz informed him that he had…

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Louisiana Sheriff Vicariously Liable For Training Injuries Suffered By Deputy

In 2001, Charles Albert, a deputy with the Lafayette Parish, Louisiana Sheriff’s Department attended a defensive tactics training course conducted by the Department. Carl Broussard, also a deputy with the Department, attended the same training course. Shortly before the instructor arrived, Broussard and Albert decided to practice the “common peroneal” maneuver. This defensive tactic allows a deputy to subdue a subject by pressing his knee into the upper thigh…

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Discharge Not Warranted For Bringing Live Chicken To Shift Briefing

Kraig Stuxness is a deputy sheriff with the Riverside County, California Sheriff’s Department. The County terminated Stuxness after he brought a live chicken into the detention center in order to play a practical joke on a fellow deputy during a shift change briefing. In deciding to terminate his employment, the County found that Struxness had violated department general orders by engaging in horseplay and by being dishonest on two…

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Vacancy Established Only When Appeals Exhausted

On March 6, 2001, J.L. Garcia was “indefinitely suspended” from his position of fire captain with the City of Harlingen, Texas Fire Department for insubordination, being absent without leave, and violating local rules. At the time of Garcia’s suspension, Eddie Alvarez was the only candidate on the promotional list to captain. Under Texas law, where a promotional eligibility list exists on the day a vacancy occurs, the vacancy must…

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Employment Handbooks Do Not Create Job Protections In Mississippi

Stanley Starks was terminated from his job as a canine officer with the Fayette, Mississippi Police Department on July 17, 2001, “for conduct unbecoming an officer.” In 2001, Starks, two other officers, and the Police Chief were preparing to conduct a drug raid on an apartment occupied by Lenice Winston. Winston was employed as a dispatcher for the Alcorn State University Police Department. Prior to the raid, Starks called…

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Grievance Appeal To City Manager Not Necessarily Futile

Robert Velez, Kim Pavek, Raymond Lau, and Raymond Harer were former City of Ventura, California police officers and members of the Ventura Police Officers’ Association. Each of the four suffered a work-related injury or illness that prevented their return to work. Under California law, in lieu of workers’ compensation benefits, police officers are allowed a paid leave of absence of up to one year. At the end of the…

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Internal Police Department Tip About Location Of Suspect Not Constitutionally Protected

The tenure of Arthur Jones as the Police Chief of Milwaukee, Wisconsin produced one of the greatest number of law enforcement labor lawsuits of any jurisdiction in the county. Though Jones is no longer chief, the lawsuits against him continue to percolate through the courts. A recent case involved George Schad, a police officer who is a member of the Warrant Squad of the Department. The Warrant Squad, which…

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No Violation Of First Amendment For Refusing To Promote Deputy Because Of His Political Activities

James Fuerst, once the president of the Milwaukee, Wisconsin Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, had a troubled relationship with Sheriff David Clarke. After Clarke had been initially appointed to the position of Sheriff, and while he was seeking election, the Association’s board approved a “no confidence vote” on Clarke. Fuerst was involved in the vote and was in charge of publicizing the results to the community at large. Fuerst marched in…

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Fire Chief Can Rely On Subjective Qualities Of Candidates For Promotion Without Being Guilty Of Race Discrimination

James Mitchell, an African-American man, is a sergeant with the Muncie, Indiana Fire Department. In 2002, Mitchell applied for a job as the chief arson investigator for the Department. The Fire Chief interviewed each of the three candidates for the job, and ended up selecting Lieutenant Inspector David Miller, who had some experience in the arson investigator position, for the job. Miller is Caucasian. Mitchell sued the City, contending…

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Corrections Officer Loses Claim That His Compulsive Gambling Is A Disability; Allowed To Go To Trial On Cross-Dressing Claim

Gregory DePiano has worked as a corrections officer for Atlantic County, New Jersey since August 1987. He was promoted to sergeant in 1997 and served in that position until he was demoted to corrections officer in January 2003. Since January 2000, DePiano had been issued a total of 33 suspension days, four reprimands, and six counselings. DePiano challenged his demotion under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD), which prohibits…

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Without Bargaining, Officers Have No Right To Challenge Implementation Of Education Incentive Policy

On June 19, 2000, the Asheville, North Carolina Police Chief distributed a memorandum entitled “Changes in Policies and Procedures Regarding Recruitment, Retention and Career Development.” The memorandum stated that any new officer hired after July 1, 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree would receive five percent above the minimum starting salary, and that any new hire with a Master’s Degree would receive ten percent above the minimum starting salary. A…

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City Not Allowed To Round Promotional Scores To Nearest Whole Number

John Kelly and three other police officers brought a lawsuit against the City of New Haven, Connecticut, alleging that the City’s practice of rounding promotional scores to the nearest whole number violated a City charter provision. After the rounding process, the City treated all officers with the same “rounded score” as being equivalent, and ended up promoting officers who had actually received lower examination scores than Kelly. The Connecticut…

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If Not Raised At Arbitration, Employer Waives Right To Object To Group Nature Of Grievance

On February 1, 2002, the Fostoria, Ohio Police Department laid off all three full-time members of its dispatcher unit in compliance with the City’s mandate that each department reduce its budget by 20 percent to avoid an impending $1.5 million budget shortfall. Because of those layoffs, police officers began to perform all dispatching duties. One of the three laid-off dispatchers filed two grievances under the collective bargaining agreement between…

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Use Of Nepotism Policy Not Guise For Racial Discrimination

The Sedgwick County, Kansas Department of Corrections hired Barnard Anderson, who is African-American, in July 2001. During Anderson’s interview for the position, he disclosed that his daughter was also employed by the Department in a different facility. The head of the program for which Anderson interviewed checked with his supervisors about hiring Anderson despite his daughter’s employment and received approval from both. The Director of the Department learned of…

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73-Year Old Police Officer Loses Age Discrimination Claim

In the year 2000, at the age of 73, William Brophy applied for work as a City of Philadelphia police officer. He had previously been a police officer for the City, but left his position in 1953. In the years following his departure from the Department, he worked in various law enforcement capacities. The Department initially accepted Brophy’s application, and sent him to the Philadelphia Police Academy for a…

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“Stomach Problems” Do Not Amount To A Disability Under ADA

Donald Hickey is a police officer employed by the City of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Hickey brought a lawsuit against the City, alleging that it violated the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) when it recently failed to reasonably accommodate his disability. The disability alleged by Hickey was “stomach problems.” A federal court had no problem dismissing Hickey’s lawsuit. The Court found that “Hickey’s stomach problems do not rise to the level…

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No FMLA Violation When Officer Loses Eligibility For Sick Leave Incentive

The City of Omaha, Nebraska awards a police officer who does not take more than 40 hours of sick leave in a particular year with two hours of additional annual leave for each pay period during that year in which the officer had at least 1,000 hours of accrued sick leave. For all of 2003, Officer Jeffrey Chubb had at least 1,000 hours of accrued sick leave. In 2003,…

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Cat-Feeding Police Officer Does Not Have A Disability

Sarah Fulcher was a police officer for the Police and Security Service of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salisbury, North Carolina. Her hire was subject to a one-year probationary period. Shortly after she was hired, Fulcher was counseled by a sergeant for feeding stray cats, conducting personal business over her police radio, and failing to follow instructions. In September 2000, she was counseled for tardiness and difficulty taking…

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Arbitrator, Not Courts, Should Decide The Arbitration Provisions Complied With

Ativa Stevenson, a corrections officer with the New York Department of Correctional Services, was arrested on December 30, 2003. The Department served notice of discipline of Stevenson the following day. Stevenson filed a disciplinary grievance, which was ultimately referred to arbitration. The Arbitrator initially scheduled a hearing for March 29, 2004. On the request of the Department, and over Stevenson’s objections, the Arbitrator postponed the hearing. Stevenson then sued,…

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