California Court Orders Disclosure Of Retiree Names, Pension Amounts

The California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility (CFFR) filed a public records request with the San Diego County Employees Retirement Association, seeking the disclosure of the names of retirees who in any month in 2010 received $8,333 or more in pension benefits, the pension amounts, and how they were calculated. The Association argued that the records were exempt from disclosure because on balance the interests of retirees in privacy outweighed…

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California County Pension Amounts Not Shielded From Disclosure

California’s County Employees Retirement Law provides: “Sworn statements and individual records of members shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed to anyone except insofar as may be necessary for the administration of this chapter or upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction, or upon written authorization by the member.” When the Sacramento Bee newspaper requested the pension benefits of all Sacramento County retirees receiving more than $100,000…

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Motion To Disclose Personnel Files Should Be Filed Under Seal

William Taylor was a deputy chief of the Burbank, California Police Department. In September 2009, he sued the City for retaliation, alleging that he reported allegations of sexual harassment by a Department employee, that he complained that black and Hispanic employees were being fired because of their race, and that he had asked outside agencies to investigate a theft at the Department. Taylor believed he was initially demoted and…

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Q & A

From Ohio Question: Our contract states that all police officers will be full-time. Can the city (management) implement part time officers without negotiating because of budget problems? Answer: The general rule is that the implementation of part-time police jobs is a mandatory subject for bargaining, and cannot be unilaterally implemented without first negotiating with the labor organization. You should check with local counsel to determine whether Ohio follows that…

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Supreme Court Holds Background Check Does Not Violate Privacy Rights

Proponents of the right to privacy collectively exhaled when the Supreme Court decided National Aeronautic and Space Administration v. Nelson in January 2011. More than 30 years ago, the Court referred broadly to a constitutional privacy “interest in avoiding disclosure of personal matters.” Whalen v. Roe, 429 U.S. 589 (1977); Nixon v. Administrator of General Services, 433 U.S. 425 (1977). Some had predicted that the current makeup of the…

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Arbitration Awards Not Shielded From Public Disclosure

In July 2009, Wendy Ruderman, an employee of Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC, submitted a request to the City of Philadelphia under Pennsylvania’s “Right-to-Know Law” to review “all arbitration awards, including written decisions by arbitrators, pertaining to police officers in the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 through the present.” The City reviewed Philadelphia Newspapers’ request and identified 187 arbitration decisions of varying lengths and formats that were subject to the request….

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Court Refuses To Shield Complaint History From Discovery

In a federal court civil suit brought against the City of Chicago and a number of police officers, the plaintiffs sought discovery of the disciplinary histories and complaint register (CR) entries for the officers and other Police Department personnel. The Court rejected the City’s arguments that the documents should be exempt from discovery. The Court found that “good cause does not exist to protect information contained in CR complaints…

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Police Sergeant’s Texting Leads To Supreme Court Privacy Decision

Of the 75 to 100 decisions the Supreme Court issues each year, only roughly half a dozen involve labor issues. Decisions involving public safety employees are extremely rare, coming up only once every five to ten years or so. It was thus an unusual event that a widely-anticipated case involving how the right to privacy applies to electronic communications involved a police sergeant. Jeff Quon was a sergeant for…

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Employer’s Sick Leave Policy Is The Equivalent Of A Reprimand

The Broome County, New York Sheriff’s Department sent a memorandum to some employees stating that it had examined their use of sick leave and was requiring each employee to provide proof of illness for all future sick leave use. The memorandum also stated that the County would impose discipline if employees failed to provide the requisite proof of illness. The employee’s labor organization, the Broome County Sheriff’s Department Employees,…

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Officers Fail To Provide Enough Evidence That Video Camera In Locker Room Was Working

A group of police officers for the City of Harrison, New York, brought a Fourth Amendment lawsuit against the City, alleging that the installation of a video camera in the Department’s men’s locker room violated their privacy rights. Finding a lack of evidence that the camera worked as intended, a federal court dismissed the lawsuit. The camera was designed to work with DigiVue computer software that had been installed…

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Columbus PD Sick Leave Verification Policy Called Into Question

Recent years have seen the sick leave verification programs of public safety employees increasingly under attack. Most usually, employees file lawsuits contending that an employer’s verification program violates their privacy rights under either the Americans With Disabilities Act or a general constitutional right to privacy. The sick leave verification policy for the Columbus, Ohio Police Department ran into tough sledding in federal court this summer. Under the policy, an…

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