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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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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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City Can Replenish General Fund And Need Not Wait For Bankruptcy To Lay Off Police Officers

When the City of Ishpeming, Michigan laid off three police officers, the Ishpeming Police Officers Association challenged the layoffs in arbitration. The heart of the Association’s argument was that “the City’s attempt to support a ‘lack of funds’ argument by a desire to replenish the General Fund balance is wrong because full police funding was already in the budget.” An arbitrator was unconvinced by the Association’s arguments. The Arbitrator…

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Dallas Firefighters Lose Lawsuit Against Promotional Testing Company

In 1994, the City of Dallas, Texas settled a lawsuit with the Black Fire Fighters Association and with the Dallas Fire Fighters Association. In the settlement, the City agreed to provide an oral assessment as part of the examination given to candidates seeking a promotion to the rank of lieutenant and captain in the Dallas Fire Department. In 1999, the City contracted with the Booth Research Group to develop…

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Deputy Loses Workers’ Compensation For Injury Suffered While Commuting

Thomas Maupin is a Sheriff’s deputy in Pulaski County, Arkansas. Maupin resided in nearby Perry County and commuted to work. Maupin was not paid for travel time, and had no authority to conduct official police business in Perry County. On the day in question, Maupin was scheduled to work from 10:45 p.m. until 6:45 a.m. While driving to work at 9:50 p.m., Maupin was involved in an automobile accident…

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Fourth Amendment Does Not Cover Compelled Psychological Evaluations

Two years after Kristin Greenawalt was hired by the Indiana Department of Corrections as a research analyst, she was told that to keep her job she would have to submit to a psychological examination. The test lasted two hours and inquired into the details of her personal life. After submitting to the test, Greenawalt filed a lawsuit against the Department alleging that the examination had constituted a “search” within…

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“Mere Offensive Utterances” Do Not Amount To Sexual Harassment

After one month as an employee of the Lone Jack, Missouri Police Department, Terri Davison resigned. She sued the City and four police officers, claiming she was denied equal protection of law and constructively discharged due to her gender. When a trial court dismissed her law suit, Davison appealed to the federal Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. In support of her sexual harassment and hostile work environment claims, Davison…

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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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Officer’s Casual Clothes Result In Loss Of Job In Residency Case

John Senn was hired by the City of Cleveland, Ohio Police Department in 1991. Senn and his wife initially lived in Cleveland. After their children were born, however, Senn’s wife wanted to move out of Cleveland. In September 1996, Senn’s wife and two children moved to a single-family home in Mentor, Ohio. One month later, Senn purchased a one-bedroom mobile home in Cleveland, Ohio. Senn testified that he lived…

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Even “Silly” Arbitration Opinions Must Be Upheld

The City of Detroit, Michigan fired Sergeant Edward Forman after Forman was involved in an off-duty incident in which he discharged his firearm. Forman’s labor organization, the Detroit Lieutenants’ and Sergeants’ Association, appealed his discharge to arbitration. An arbitrator awarded Forman’s reinstatement. The City challenged the Arbitrator’s decision in court. When a trial court reversed the Arbitrator’s decision as being against public policy, the Association appealed to the Michigan…

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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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