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Florida Fire Chief Not Entitled To Notice Before Termination

William Amador was the Fire Chief for the Town of Palm Beach in Florida. As Fire Chief, Amador was a part of the Town’s management team involved in negotiations with the firefighters’ union concerning the Town’s pension plans. Evidence came to the attention of Town Manager Peter Elwell that Amador had been feeding confidential information to the Union and that he had participated in the creation and maintenance of…

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The ‘Misconduct’ Standard In Unemployment Cases

There are a few cases dealing with when terminated public safety employees are entitled to unemployment compensation. As a result, it may surprise some employers to learn that to deny unemployment benefits, they usually have to prove not just that the employee violated a work rule, but also that the employee engaged in “misconduct,” a high standard under the law. A recent decision of the Wyoming Supreme Court shows…

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Court Calls Disciplinary Theory ‘Bunkum,’ Reinstates Officer

As of June 30, 2009, Thomas Clark was a ten-year veteran of the New Orleans Police Department. Clark was working in a two-man police unit with his partner, Officer Henry Hollins. The officers observed a female subject standing outside an open door of a van. When the subject saw their police unit approaching, she slammed the door of the van and walked away. Because the area was known for…

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Firings Based On Union Membership Violate First Amendment

The State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition is a group of thirteen state public employee unions representing approximately 40,000 Connecticut state employees. The Coalition has been designated by Connecticut’s Board of Labor Relations as the exclusive bargaining agent for its constituent unions for the purpose of negotiating and entering into a collective bargaining agreement. In 1997, the Coalition entered into a long-term contract with Connecticut covering all of its constituent…

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Court Reinstates Arbitrator’s Decision Reversing Discharge Of Firefighter For Sexual Harassment

In November 2000, several firefighters working for the South County Fire Protection Authority in San Mateo County, California were idling in the dayroom of the firehouse. Captain Ronald Doss walked up behind Firefighter Gregory Nave, who was sitting in a recliner. Another firefighter said to Doss, “Why don’t you put your dick on his head?” Trouble ensued. While Doss claimed he placed his fingers on Nave’s head as a…

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Non-Member Fails To Follow Grievance Procedure, Loses Termination Case

David Luginbuhl was a full-time police officer for the Gallup, New Mexico Police Department from October 27, 2007, until his termination on June 8, 2011. The City has recognized the Gallup Police Officer’s Association as the exclusive collective bargaining representative for officers and sergeants. Luginbuhl chose not to join the Association, did not pay dues, and never sought the assistance of the Association. The contract between the Association and…

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Off Duty ‘Rough Sex’ Leads To Officer’s Termination

Garry Murphy was a Richmond, Kentucky police officer. Several weeks before October 26, 2009, Sgt. James Rogers responded to a domestic violence call at the home of April McQueen. Following that incident, Rogers and McQueen began a sexual relationship. During the course of the relationship, McQueen told Rogers that she enjoyed “rough sex,” “being dominated,” and sex with multiple partners. On October 26, 2009, at McQueen’s invitation, Rogers, Murphy,…

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California Officer Loses Brady Claim

2013 has not been a good year in court for former Torrance, California police officer Rehan Nazir. Earlier, Nazir lost a case in federal court contending that his termination violated his equal protection rights. In April 2013, Nazir lost a related case in the California Court of Appeals. Nazir’s difficulties started on April 14, 2007, when he prepared a “probable cause declaration” omitting the fact that he had been…

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Court Denies Officer’s Request For 22 Years Of ‘Front Pay’

On May 25, 2012, a jury found that Matthew Weaving, a sergeant with the Hillsboro, Oregon Police Department, had a disability of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) under the Americans with Disabilities Act and parallel Oregon law. In addition, the jury found that the City failed to reasonably accommodate Weaving’s ADHD and that Weaving was discharged because he had ADHD. Accordingly, the jury awarded Weaving $75,000 in compensatory damages….

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Inadequate Job Description Leads To Reversal Of Termination

Brian Lutz was a police officer employed by the Albany, New York Police Department. In December 2010, his driver’s license was temporarily revoked in connection with charges brought against him for driving while intoxicated. The Department advised Lutz that possession of a valid driver’s license was a minimum qualification for APD police officers and afforded him an opportunity to provide documentation regarding the status of his license. After Lutz…

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Employer Fails To Terminate Probationary Sergeant In The Right Way, Loses Case

On July 6, 2008, Eddie Hernandez was promoted to the position of sergeant with the Los Angeles Port Police. The promotion entailed a six-month probationary period. At about the same time he was promoted, Hernandez obtained approval to take a family vacation to Lake Tahoe, California beginning December 30, 2008 and ending January 7, 2009. On December 30, the Director of Human Resources approved a recommendation that Hernandez’s probation…

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‘Brady Alert’ System Does Not Violate Officer’s Equal Protection Rights

Rehan Nazir was a police officer with the City of Torrance, California. In 2007, Nazir and another officer arrested a suspected narcotics dealer based on information provided by a confidential informant; the arrestee also matched the description of a suspect wanted in a convenience store robbery. Nazir prepared two probable cause declarations for the incident, but omitted information regarding use of the confidential informant because there was independent probable…

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Disability Termination Requires Due Process

John Turner was employed by the Arizona Department of Public Safety as a sworn, full-time highway patrol officer. In October 2008, Turner’s personal psychologist contacted the Department and advised that Turner be temporarily relieved from duty so that he could be treated for psychosis and paranoid schizophrenia, which was causing him to see demons in traffic violators. The Department promptly relieved Turner from duty and placed him on paid…

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Arbitrator’s Independent Research On Steroids Results In Overturning Of Decision On Firefighter’s Termination

On September 24, 2007, Travis Quesada was dismissed from his employment with Tampa, Florida Fire Rescue after a second drug test came back positive for suspicious levels of the metabolite 19-norandrosterone. This result suggested that Quesada had taken the anabolic steroid Nandrolone and had been untruthful in his responses to departmental and medical inquiries regarding steroid use. Quesada filed a grievance, maintaining that he had not taken illegal anabolic…

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In Polygraph Case, Lieutenant Retains Most Of Multi-Million Dollar Judgment Against City

Dan Dixon was a lieutenant with the City of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho Police Department. In December 2008, allegations were made that Dixon had falsified timekeeping records and intentionally violated a subordinate officer’s rights under a labor agreement. In January 2009, the City began an internal investigation into these allegations. As part of the investigation, and pursuant to City policy and Dixon’s employment agreement, Dixon submitted to two independent polygraph…

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Officer’s Termination Can Be Based On Convenience Store Video

Moises Rodriguez was a police officer for the City of Chula Vista, California. On May 24, 2008, Rodriguez assisted with the arrest of Robert Carlton. Intoxicated and belligerent, Carlton made verbal threats to Rodriguez and Officers Bryan Maddox and Kristy Voshell, who also participated in the arrest and search incident to arrest of the suspect. Carlton told the officers, “Fuck you, fuck you and your tin badge,” and “I’m…

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Lieutenant Wins Legal Theory But Loses Case Against Sheriff

William Hunt was a lieutenant in the Orange County, California Sheriff’s Department. Hunt was the Chief of Police Services for the City of San Clemente, which contracted with the Department for police services. In May 2005, Hunt announced that he would challenge Mike Carona, the incumbent Orange County Sheriff, in the upcoming June 6, 2006 election. During the campaign, Hunt issued public statements, radio addresses, press releases, and campaign…

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No Basis To Overturn Arbitrator’s Decision Upholding Termination Of Sergeant

Peter McKenna was a sergeant with the Albany, New York Police Department. In January 2009, police received a 911 call reporting an apparently intoxicated individual who was driving a truck at a high rate of speed through city streets, and who had nearly caused a head-on collision, swerved erratically, struck snow banks with his truck, hit a parked car and then drove away from the scene of the accident….

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Continued Acts Of Misconduct Make Employee No Longer ‘Similarly Situated’

When Clark County, Ohio terminated the probationary period of corrections officer Jocelyn Smith, she filed a lawsuit claiming that she was the victim of race discrimination. Smith, who is African-American, argued that she was treated differently than a similarly situated, white male probationary employee, Deputy Bryan Beller, who was caught downloading and viewing pornography on a computer at the Sheriff’s office. Deputy Beller’s employment was not terminated for this…

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Department Cannot Fire Officer Who Followed Training

On January 29, 2010, Portland, Oregon police officer Ron Frashour was one of approximately 15 officers responding to a call that an armed man, Aaron Campbell, was threatening suicide by police. Because he was certified in the AR-15 rifle, Frashour was assigned as “lethal cover” for a custody team that set up in a parking lot adjacent to the apartment where Campbell was located. During the next hour and…

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Failure To Train And Sexual Misconduct

Joshua Mozeleski is a Chicopee, Massachusetts police officer. On the night of November 9, 2007, Yolanda Claudio was acting as the designated driver during celebrations for her cousin’s birthday. After she dropped her cousin off at the end of the night, she noticed Joshua Mozeleski, whom she did not know, in a nearby parked police cruiser. Mozeleski subsequently drove off and Claudio left a short time later. Mozeleski circled…

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Soliciting Dates While On Duty Disqualifies Deputy From Unemployment Insurance

David DuBay was a deputy sheriff for Watonwan County, Minnesota from September 2008 to July 2010, when he was terminated for numerous instances of insubordination and inappropriate conduct toward women while on duty. Early in DuBay’s brief career, the Department began to receive complaints from women that DuBay solicited dates from them while on duty. The complaints included DuBay asking women on dates, making women feel uncomfortable, aggressively pursuing…

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Mayor Not Required To Follow Personnel Board’s Recommendation To Reinstate ‘Texting’ Lieutenant

Plaintiff Timothy A. LaVigne was a lieutenant in the City of Norton Shores, Michigan Police Department. As a commanding officer, LaVigne was not a member of a collective bargaining unit. Between July and September of 2010, LaVigne used his City cellular phone to send and receive a total of 451 text messages with Linda Nanna, the wife of a subordinate officer. It is undisputed that the some of these…

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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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No ‘Comparators’ To Officer Who Drove Car Into House

Charles Ramirez began working for the Saginaw, Michigan Police Department in 1991. While off duty on March 23, 2001, Ramirez was arrested and charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Acknowledging that he had a drinking problem, Ramirez pled guilty to the charged offense. The City referred Ramirez to an employee assistance program for alcohol abuse, which Ramirez completed. The Department also undertook an internal affairs investigation, which resulted…

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