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Pre-Existing Condition Does Not Prevent Firefighter’s Workers’ Compensation Claim

Paul Bryson was a firefighter for the Brownsburg, Indiana Fire Territory. In 2008 and 2009, Bryson suffered a series of three injuries while working. On May 21, 2008, Bryson and other Brownsburg firefighters were attempting to reattach the firehouse bay door. Bryson stood on top of a ladder and “resisted the force of a commercial garage door opener without getting knocked off” the ladder. In the process, he felt…

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Identity Of Wounded Officers Need Not Be Disclosed To Newspaper

The Iron Horsemen is a nationwide outlaw motorcycle gang that has been based in Cincinnati for about 40 years. The gang deals in drugs, weapons, and prostitution. In the 1980s, threats and tension between the Iron Horsemen and the Cincinnati police were prevalent. One of the members of the Iron Horsemen had created a 12-gauge shotgun within his motorcycle handlebar to threaten police officers. Other members had threatened an…

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Q & A

From Arizona Question: Under current DOL rules and court cases can an agency tell/order an officer or civilian employee to use comp time to get below what policy says is the maximum allowed, which is far below what the FLSA prescribes? Answer: In Christensen v. Harris County, Texas, 529 U.S. 576 (2000), the Supreme Court held that the FLSA’s compensatory time off provision, § 207(o)(5), “is more properly read…

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Can A Past Practice Change A Contract?

A topic that finds the opinion of arbitrators fractured is whether a past practice can change the clear terms of a contract. The most often cited reference works on past practice are a 1961 law review article by Arbitrator Richard Mittenthal, and the basic treatise on labor arbitration, How Arbitration Works by Frank and Edna Elkouri. Mittenthal’s article, titled “Past Practice and the Administration of Collective Bargaining Agreements,” suggested…

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GPS Surveillance In Discipline Cases

The United States Supreme Court recently made headlines with its ruling in United States v. Jones, a criminal case involving the use of a GPS locator on a criminal defendant’s car. The case started in 2004, when Antoine Jones, owner and operator of a nightclub in the District of Columbia, came under suspicion of trafficking in narcotics and was made the target of an investigation by a joint FBI…

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Sergeant Can’t Resist Racial Humor, Loses Job

Rodney Hicok was a sergeant with the Iowa Department of Public Safety. Hicok’s troubles started in January 2009, when he received an email entitled “FW: The new fashion statement for mug shots!” The email featured 15 mug shots of suspects wearing various versions of tee-shirts in support of President Barack Obama. Twelve of the 15 individuals appeared to be African-American. The forwarded email read: “Chicago Police Dept. mug shots….

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NLRB Offers Additional Guidance on Social Media Issues, Continues To Expand Employee Rights in Social Media Outlets and to Scrutinize Employer Communication Policies

By Doug Hass, Chris Johlie and Amy Zdravecky (Editor’s note: Even though the NLRB does not cover public sector labor organizations, many state labor boards and courts turn to the NLRB’s decisions for guidance on how to interpret state law issues. The NLRB has been extremely active on the topic of an employer’s ability to restrict the off-site use of social media by employees. Because the law in the…

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NYPD Sergeants Not Exempt From Overtime

In Mullins v. City of New York, the canary in a coal mine for a lot of other litigation involving the same issue, the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals squarely faced the question of whether to defer to the Department of Labor on whether mid-level public safety supervisors were exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The stakes in the case were high – at issue…

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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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Officer Wins $1.5 Million In Disability Lawsuit Against LAPD

Rory Cuiellette is a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. After several years on the job, Cuiellette was injured and placed on disability leave. After his workers’ compensation claim resolved with a finding of 100% disability, the City accepted his request to return to work in May 2003. He worked less than five days before the City realized that he was “100% disabled” and, on that basis,…

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Cuts In Collective Bargaining In Ohio

While there has been much focus on the drama that produced Wisconsin’s changes in its public employees collective bargaining law, even more substantial changes have occurred in Ohio. The political dynamics in the two states are the same – newly-elected Republican majorities in both houses of the legislature, and a Republican governor. Unlike Wisconsin’s law, however, Senate Bill 5 in Ohio, signed into law on April 1, 2011 by…

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The Fair Labor Standards Act And Compensatory Time Off Use

It would seem like a simple question. If a public employee wants to use compensatory time off on a particular day, does the employer have to grant the day off? As straightforward as that question might seem, courts have tangled with the issue, and the Department of Labor (DOL) has recently withdrawn a proposed regulation that would have changed its long-held view on the issue. Here’s the lay of…

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Supreme Court Holds That Company May Be Liable For The Discriminatory Motives Of Non-Decision Makers

On March 1, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court held that an employer may be liable for the discriminatory motives of a supervisor who influences but does not make the ultimate employment decision. The Court’s ruling will impact employment discrimination claims where multiple individuals are claimed to have made, caused, or influenced the ultimate employment decision. The Cat’s Paw Theory Of Liability In employment discrimination claims, plaintiffs must establish 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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