Probationary Firefighter Trainees Were Entitled To Post-Termination Name-Clearing Hearing Over Claims Of Cheating

By: Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In Cortez-Debonar v. Fretwell, two former firefighter trainees sued the city of Las Vegas after they were terminated from the firefighter academy following allegations of cheating. The district court held that the trainees could pursue both their due process and breach of contract claims.

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Arizona Supreme Court Finds Union Release Time Legal Under State Constitution

By: Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In Cheatham v. DiCiccio, a majority of the Arizona Supreme Court found that union release time was not illegal under the state constitution’s Gift Clause.

Ninety percent of police officers in Phoenix belong to a police union. Like most collective bargaining agreements, under the Phoenix police union’s collective bargaining agreement, officers are excused from usual police duties, but are still paid by the city, while they perform union activities and conduct union business.

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New Jersey Officers Retaliatory Transfer Charge Following Quota Complaints Fail When Court Finds Poor Performance, Not Complaints, Led to Transfer

By: Jim Cline & Harrison Owens

In Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 1, et al. v. City of Camden, et al., a New Jersey District Court dismissed several officers’ claims that they had been retaliated against, and one officer’s claim that his FMLA rights had been denied by the City. In their complaint, the officers claimed that several defendants had retaliated against them or interfered with their FMLA rights after they spoke out against a “directed patrol” policy. The District Court dismissed all of their claims because the officers failed to show that their poor performance under the policy was not the primary reason for their transfers. The Court also found that there was no evidence that the defendants denied one of the officers his rights under the FMLA or harmed him.

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Second Circuit Finds Connecticut Police Chief’s Retaliatory Acts Were Exercise of His Own First Amendment Rights

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In, Lynch v. Ackley, the Second Circuit found that a police chief was entitled to summary judgment dismissing a police officer’s claim that he was retaliated against for exercising his First Amendment rights. The Court also found that the police chief’s own retaliatory statements were an exercise of her First Amendment right to defend herself.

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Second Circuit Finds Connecticut Police Chief’s Retaliatory Acts Were Exercise of His Own First Amendment Rights

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In, Lynch v. Ackley, the Second Circuit found that a police chief was entitled to summary judgment dismissing a police officer’s claim that he was retaliated against for exercising his First Amendment rights. The Court also found that the police chief’s own retaliatory statements were an exercise of her First Amendment right to defend herself.

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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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