Seventh Circuit Finds that Juvenile Detention Employee Could Not Bring Race Discrimination Claim After Supervisor Threatens He Would “Take Them To The Woodshed”

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In Carothers v. County of Cook, the Seventh Circuit found that a black employee at a juvenile detention center could not move forward with her Title VII race discrimination claim, despite evidence that her supervisor had told a group of employees he would “take them to the woodshed” and made a problematic comment about Malcom X. In her complaint, the employee alleged not only race discrimination, but also disability discrimination, gender discrimination, and retaliation. The Court found that because the statements were not made by the ultimate decision maker, the woodshed statement did not hold racial connotations, and the Malcom X comment was made three years prior, the County’s motion for summary judgment was appropriate.

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Eighth Circuit Finds St. Louis Police Officer Suffered Adverse Employment Action Despite Having No Change in Pay, Benefits, or Rank

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In Bonenberger v. St. Louis Metro. Police Dept., a white police officer applied for and was denied the position of Assistant Academy Director of the St. Louis, Missouri Police Academy, an African American woman was chosen instead. The police officer sued department officials alleging race discrimination and conspiracy to discriminate. A jury found in the officer’s favor on claims against three of his superiors regarding both claims. The department appealed the district court’s denial of their motion for a judgment as a matter of law.

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Massachusetts District Court Finds Police Officer Has No First Amendment or Defamation Claims For Speech Concerning City’s Dog Ordinance Laws

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In McGunigle v. City of Quincy, a former Massachusetts police officer filed suit against the City of Quincy, Chief of Police, and Captain. In his suit, the officer alleged that he was wrongfully disciplined, and eventually terminated, by the department for making comments to local news organizations concerning violations of city dog ordinances infringing on his First Amendment Rights. The officer filed an additional claim of defamation against the Chief of Police for statements he made to the local newspaper. The district court found that the department’s interest in maintaining order and obedience of their officers in a public arena outweighed the officer’s interest in speech. The Court further found that the defamation claim failed because the statements did not rise to the level of malice.

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Michigan District Court Finds Police Officer Could Claim Retaliation and First Amendment Violations After Reporting Sexual Harassment

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In Jennings v. Wayne County, a Michigan police officer was able to establish a claim for retaliation after she complained about sexual harassment. The district court found that being frozen out of meetings, not receiving backup, and being stripped of her Blackberry could constitute an adverse action. The district court also found the officer had established a First Amendment claim because her complaints about the harassment involved a matter of public concern.

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Alabama District Court Finds Police Officer Can Pursue Claim of Retaliation After Reporting Department Corruption

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In White v. City of Athens, a former Alabama police officer alleged he was retaliated against after he was fired for reporting police corruption to the local newspaper. The City argued the officer was terminated for his improper use of police databases. The US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama sided with the officer because he had shown other officers had used the police database for similar purposes and not been disciplined, creating an inference of retaliation.

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Louisiana Police Officer Protected Under First Amendment When He Cooperated with FBI Investigation

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In Howell v. Town of Ball, a former police officer in Louisiana, alleged he was fired for cooperating with an FBI investigation of public corruption. The Fifth Circuit overturned the district court in finding that the officer was entitled to First Amendment protection for his cooperation.

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Seventh Circuit Finds Illinois Deputy Sheriff Was Retaliated Against After Termination for Moonlighting

free-speechBy Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In Yahnke v. Kane County, an Illinois deputy sheriff was terminated after he continued to hold a second job despite being asked to discontinue the work. The deputy sheriff believed the termination was due to his potential run for Sheriff and his political affiliation. The Seventh Circuit agreed, finding the deputy sheriff was entitled to a trial.

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Pennsylvania District Court Finds Correctional Officer Who Violated Legitimate Rule Can Move Forward With Claim of Race Discrimination

credit-cardBy Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In McWilliams v. Cmty. Educ. Ctrs., Inc., an African American correctional officer was terminated for violating a fraternization policy after he helped an inmate deposit money into his prison account. The officer alleged the termination was racially discriminatory and that the prison had allowed a hostile work environment. The U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania found that the officer had established a disparate treatment claim by alleging his punishment was not comparable to white officers who had broken the same rule and the office had established a hostile work environment claim by alleging black officers were subjected to pictures of nooses.

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Arbitrator Finds No Evidence To Prove Discrimination Of Federal Bureau of Prisons, When No Officer Corroborates Events

behind-barsBy Jim Cline and Geoff Kiernan

In Federal Bureau of Prisons, an arbitrator ruled that a corrections officer could not sustain his claim that the Federal Bureau of Prisons discriminated against him for being Hispanic. This finding was largely because none of his co-workers corroborated his story and thus there was no evidence to substantiate his claim.

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Federal Appeals Court Holds that Resigning Alabama Corrections Officer Cannot Sue for Disability Discrimination if Provided an Opportunity to Appeal His Pending Termination


policyBy Mitchell Riese and Mathias M. Deeg

In Williams v. Alabama Dep’t. of Corrections, the U.S.Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit determined that a Corrections Officer’s resignation could not be considered an adverse employment action on the part of his employer if he was provided with reasonable alternatives to resignation. The Court found the employer’s offer to hold a formal hearing at which the Officer could tell his side of the story to be a sufficient alternative to immediate resignation.

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