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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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Expectation To Complete Normal Job Tasks Cannot Be Retaliation

Houston firefighter Terrance Bailey, who is African-American, worked at Fire Station 21 for ten years. In February 2009, Bailey met with Captain Joe Schwaigger, Captain Shelley Squires, and District Chief Kenneth Currie to express his unhappiness about working at Station 21. He threatened to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission if Currie did not transfer him to Station 47 as a permanent fill-in. Currie told Bailey…

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Officer Who Reported Chief’s Illegal Conduct Loses Retaliation Claim

Darren Pead was a police officer for Ephraim City, a small town in rural Sanpete County, Utah. In a recent lawsuit, Pead learned first-hand how the Supreme Court’s Garcetti rule provides little protection for job-related speech. Pead claimed he discovered that Police Chief Ron Rasmussen had failed to fill out or complete hundreds of police reports, dating back as far as 2008, in violation of City policy and law…

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Prosecutor ‘Absolutely Immune’ For Suit Alleging Brady-List Type Retaliation

Franklin Savage joined the Pocomoke, Maryland City Police Department in 2011, and in 2012 was assigned to the Worcester County Criminal Enforcement Team (CET), a multi-jurisdictional drug interdiction task force led by the Worcester County Sheriff ’s Office. In April 2014, Savage attended a meeting with members of the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s office, including State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss an upcoming…

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Court Upholds Huge Jury Verdict For Two Seattle Police Officers

On June 23, 2014, Kathleen O’Toole became Chief of the Seattle Police Department. She promoted Dave Proudfoot to captain and assigned him to lead the South Precinct. On July 21, Sergeant Ella Elias filed notice of a claim stating that she intended to sue the City. This notice described a hostile work environment, gender discrimination, and retaliation claims. On September 15, O’Toole issued an investigatory transfer order that temporarily…

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Illegal Retaliation After Captain Protests Order To March In MLK Day Parade

Walter Busby, who is African American, is a captain with the Tulsa Police Department (TPD) in Oklahoma. Busby reported to Major Walter Evans, who is also African American. On January 13, 2010, Evans called Busby to his office, and indicated that he was “ashamed and embarrassed about the lack of participation of blacks in TPD-sponsored activities, particularly the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade” and informed Busby that Evans…

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Denial Of Shift Trades Amounts To Illegal Retaliation

The Santa Clara County Correctional Peace Officers’ Association represents rank-and-file corrections officers working for Santa Clara County, California. Section 7.4 of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the parties allows officers to trade shifts, but provides that voluntary day-off trades “must have prior administrative review and approval.” Everett Fitzgerald is a correctional officer and president of the Association. As the Association president, Fitzgerald would often trade shifts to gain…

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LAPD Officer Wins FLSA Retaliation Lawsuit

Leonard Avila was a police officer for the City of Los Angeles. In January 2008, Avila testified under subpoena in a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) suit against the City of Los Angeles in the Central District of California brought by a fellow officer who sought overtime for working through his lunch hour. Avila testified that he and many other LAPD officers, including his supervisors, operated under an unwritten…

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LAPD Officer Wins $2.8 Million In Retaliation Suit

Pedro Torres and Robert Hill were officers assigned to the Los Angeles Police Department’s Newton Division. They frequently heard their immediate supervisor, Sergeant Gil Curtis, use derogatory terms and make disparaging comments in reference to African-Americans and Hispanics. On one occasion Curtis referred to Torres in his presence as “a lazy Mexican.” In March 2005, Hill initiated a misconduct complaint against Curtis with the Department’s Internal Affairs Division accusing…

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LAFD Battalion Chief Wins Nearly $1.0 Million In Retaliation Lawsuit

In 2005, John Miller, a battalion chief with the Los Angeles Fire Department, was selected to head the Department’s Arson Counter-Terrorism Section (ACTS). ACTS is responsible for investigating suspected cases of arson, and where appropriate, presenting its investigative findings to the district attorney for criminal prosecution. The section is comprised of three commanding officers and 18 arson investigators. Because timely and thorough response to crimes of arson is critical,…

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Proximity In Time Does Not Necessarily Mean Retaliation

Patricia Karaffa was formerly employed as a police dispatcher by Montgomery Township, Pennsylvania. On February 1, 2011, she took approved FMLA leave for the birth of her daughter and later for the care of her newly-born daughter. Just prior to her return to work in April 2011, Karaffa was informed that she was assigned to work only overnight dispatching shifts. When Karaffa informed the Police Chief and Deputy Chief…

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Transfer Of Detective Sergeant To Patrol Held Retaliatory

Sergeant Kerry Jernigan works for the Homicide Section of the Prince George’s County, Maryland Police Department. Jernigan worked 16 years as an investigator; he was occasionally assigned to temporary duty with various task forces. Upon his promotion to sergeant, Jernigan remained in the Homicide Section. Major Cesar Pacheco was the commander of the Section. Jernigan estimated that he had been assigned to approximately 1,000 cases in one capacity or…

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Federal Appeals Court Upholds Verdict Against Fire Union

Anthony Booth and Jerry Brown were emergency services workers for the Emergency Services Department in Pasco County, Florida, and were members of Local 4420 of the International Association of Fire Fighters. Both worked in the Department’s Station 14. In June 2007, Booth filed a Department grievance against the captain who supervised the station. The captain’s boss had warned Booth that he would be transferred if he filed a grievance,…

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Corrections Officer Recovers $1.67 Million In Retaliation Case

Charles Hughes was a corrections lieutenant for the State of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. While employed at the Department, Hughes was a member of the correctional police officers’ union. In 1995, he became a job steward. In that capacity, he represented union members in lower-level grievances and small internal affairs interviews. In 1998, Hughes was elected chapter president of the Union, a position he held until his…

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‘Suspicious Timing’ Of Discipline Does Not Establish Retaliation Against Officer

Over the course of six months, Kenneth Kidwell, a 16-year veteran of the Danville, Illinois Police Department, publicly criticized several departmental officials at two police officers’ union meetings. Roughly during that same time period, Kidwell also committed several violations of departmental policy and was punished accordingly with, among other things, a written reprimand and a two-day suspension. Then, after Kidwell failed to clear a fitness-for-duty evaluation, the department officials…

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Internal Affairs Investigation Not Protected By First Amendment

Under the Supreme Court’s decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006), public employees have no free speech right when they “make statements pursuant to their official duties.” In other words, the Constitution provides no protection to an employee for speech that is part of the job, and the employer is constitutionally free to discipline the employee for the speech, even if the speech is truthful. A lawsuit…

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Calling Officer A ‘Pain’ Not Gender Or Race Discrimination

Sharon Davis, an African-American, was employed as a police officer with the Newark, New Jersey Police Department. Davis filed a seven-count lawsuit against the City, alleging that she was retaliated against for raising issues of racial and gender discrimination. The federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals rejected all of Davis’s claims. The Court held that, “even accepting Davis’s allegations, she has failed to claim that she was retaliated against…

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Court Upholds $300,000 Award To Officer For Transfer

Byron Hickey, a police officer employed by the Columbus Consolidated Government in Georgia, sued the City, claiming he was retaliated against for opposing unlawful discrimination. When a jury awarded Hickey $306,969, the City asked the trial court to overturn the award on the grounds that inadequate evidence supported Hickey’s claims. The Court rejected the City’s arguments. The key issue was whether Hickey’s transfer from the Vice to the Burglary…

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Court Upholds $300,000 Award To Officer For Transfer

Byron Hickey, a police officer employed by the Columbus Consolidated Government in Georgia, sued the City, claiming he was retaliated against for opposing unlawful discrimination. When a jury awarded Hickey $306,969, the City asked the trial court to overturn the award on the grounds that inadequate evidence supported Hickey’s claims. The Court rejected the City’s arguments. The key issue was whether Hickey’s transfer from the Vice to the Burglary…

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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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Battalion Chief Loses Restroom-Based Sex Discrimination Claim

There is a long history of litigation between Kathleen Kline and the City of Kansas City, Missouri. From 1977 to 2006, Kline worked for the City’s Fire Department. At the time she resigned in 2006, Kline had been promoted several times to reach the position of battalion chief (only the fire chief and deputy chiefs are higher in the chain of command). In 1994, Kline filed a Title VII…

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The ‘Policymaker’ Rule As Applied In A California Sheriff’s Department

Jeffrey Bardzik was a lieutenant in the Orange County, Callifornia; Michael Carona was the Sheriff. Bardzik sued Carona, alleging that Carona violated Bardzik’s First Amendment right to free speech by retaliating against Bardzik for supporting Carona’s opponent in the 2006 Sheriff’s election. Bardzik contended that Carona retaliated against him by transferring him from the prestigious position of Reserve Division Commander to an undesirable post at Court Operations. Bardzik also…

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The Supreme Court And The Scope Of Title VII’s Anti-Discrimination Clause

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act has a broad anti-discrimination clause. 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e-3(a) provides that it “shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against any of his employees…because he has made a charge” under Title VII. Title VII permits “a person claiming to be aggrieved” to file a charge with the EEOC alleging that the employer committed an unlawful employment practice, and,…

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Police Chief Loses Claim For Pension Spiking

Darren Nance was terminated as a Newark, New Jersey police officer on September 3, 1996 and has not served as a police officer in the past 14 years. On June 24, 2010, a jury found that Nance’s termination was in retaliation for invoking his right to petition the government under the First Amendment and that Nance was subject to retaliation in violation of New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination. Subsequently,…

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Officer Wins Lawsuit and $600K, Loses Claim For Reinstatement

Darren Nance was terminated as a Newark, New Jersey police officer on September 3, 1996 and has not served as a police officer in the past 14 years. On June 24, 2010, a jury found that Nance’s termination was in retaliation for invoking his right to petition the government under the First Amendment and that Nance was subject to retaliation in violation of New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination. Subsequently,…

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