Correctional Officer Fails to Find an Adequate Comparator to Support Racial Discrimination Claim

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Kasey Burton

Alabama_Department_of_CorrectionsIn Williams v. Ala. Dep’t of Corr., an Alabama District Court held that an African-American correctional officer failed to prove that he was terminated on the basis of race.  Even though the officer tried to show that the white officer was treated differently, the Court was not convinced the two officers were similarly situated.

[Read more…]

Washington Appeals Court Holds That Some Private Cellular Phone Call Logs And Text Messages Of A Government Official May Qualify As “Public Records” Under The Public Records Act

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Jordan L. Jones

Cell phone privacyIn Nissen v. Pierce County, the Court of Appeals of Washington, Division Two held that “because some of the private cellular phone call logs and text messages . . . [of a prosecutor that were requested by the Plaintiff] may qualify as . . . [‘public records’ under the state’s Public Records Act] the superior court erred in granting the County’s . . . motion to dismiss.” The Court stated that “call logs for a government official’s private cellular phone constitute ‘public records’ only with regard to the calls that relate to government business and only if these call logs are used or retained by the government agency.” The Court also stated “text messages sent or received by a government official constitute ‘public records’ only if the text messages relate to government business.”

[Read more…]

Deputy Sheriffs’ Retaliation Suit Claiming They Were Accused of Being Skinheads Dismissed

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Kasey Burton

false-reportsIn Cox v. Onondaga Cnty. Sheriff’s Dep’t, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of retaliation complaints by white Deputy Sheriffs (located in the state of New York).  Even though the Deputies had set forth a prima facie case of retaliation, the Sheriff’s Department was able to demonstrate non-retaliatory reasons for its actions.  The Deputies were unable to rebut the Department’s non-retaliatory explanations with evidence of pretext.

[Read more…]

Federal District Court Denies Township’s Motion to Dismiss Pennsylvania Police Officer’s Employment Discrimination Complaint Following Active Duty with the Military

By Jordan Jones

userra-candidate-word-cloudIn Dubiak v. S. Abington Twp., the Court denied South Abington Township’s Motion to dismiss a police officer’s complaint that he was discriminated against in violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) when he was not rehired following active duty with the Marine Corps.

[Read more…]

Ninth Circuit Rejects San Francisco County’s BFOQ Defense for Policy Excluding Male Corrections Officers from Supervising Female Inmates

By Erica Shelley Nelson

prison (1)In Anderson v. City & Cnty. of San Francisco, the Ninth Circuit reversed the granting of summary judgment to the San Francisco County on claims of sex discrimination, in its jail staffing policies. The court held that the County was unable to meet its burden in demonstrating that it was entitled to a “bona fide occupational qualification” (BFOQ) defense for a policy that excluded male corrections deputies from supervising female inmates.

[Read more…]

Demotion of North Carolina Female Detention Officer for Violation of Unwritten Policy Forbidding Presence of Opposite Sex While Inmates Shower

By Kasey Burton

Unwritten-Rules-HeaderIn Gethers v. Harrison, the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of North Carolina held that a sheriff’s office did not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of gender when it demoted a female detention officer. The female officer refused to leave the bathroom area while a male inmate was showering. Two other male officers were present, and the inmate was no longer agitated or presenting any sort of threat.  Consequently, the female officer’s presence was determined unnecessary and inappropriate.  During the course of the investigation following the demotion, the Sheriff concluded that Gethers was not truthful and subsequently terminated her on that basis.

[Read more…]

Police Officer with Disciplinary Record Able to Sue for Harassment based on National Origin

By Kasey Burton

discriminating outsiderIn Morshed v County of Lake, the Court held that years of slurs and constant denigration were enough to allow Police Officer Morshed to pursue a national origin harassment claim even though he lost no pay or benefits.

[Read more…]

Terminated New Jersey Police Officer’s First Amendment Claim Fails After Federal Court Finds Retaliation Based on Mistaken Perception of Free Speech Not Actionable

By Emily Nelson

free speechJeffrey Heffernan, a police officer in the City of Paterson, New Jersey, sued the City for retaliation after he was demoted from Detective to Patrol Officer for engaging in protected speech. Heffernan was demoted the day after other police officers observed him meeting with a Mayoral Candidate’s Campaign Manager to pick up a campaign lawn sign for his ill mother while he was off duty. However, in Heffernan v. City of Paterson, a Federal District Court dismissed Heffernan’s claims, finding that an employee cannot bring a first amendment retaliation claim based on an Employer’s mistaken perception that the Employee is engaging in political speech—there must be some evidence that the individual actually engaged in the speech for which they are retaliated against.

[Read more…]

Firefighter with Only One Good Eye Still May Retain Employment Rights

By Emily Nelson

panning_firetruckAnthony Rorrer, a firefighter for the City of Stow, Ohio, alleged the City violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by firing him after he completely lost vision in one eye in a non-work related accident. In Rorrer v. City of Stow, a Federal Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s grant of Summary Judgment to the City, allowing Rorrer’s ADA claims against the City to proceed.

[Read more…]

As Expected, Supreme Court Acknowledges First Amendment Speech Protection for Public Employee that Testifies Pursuant to Subpoena

By Jim Cline

whistleblower1

As had been widely anticipated, the United States Supreme Court in Lane v. Franks overturned a ruling by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that had found that a Georgia community college administrator was unprotected by the first amendment when he was retaliated against following his sworn court testimony.

[Read more…]