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 Denies Qualified Immunity For Police Commissioner Who Terminated Officer After Filing a Grievance

overtimeBy: Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In Rossiter v. Ramsey, a Philadelphia police officer was terminated for alleged overtime abuses and then subsequently reinstated following an arbitration hearing. After his reinstatement, the officer brought charges that he had been retaliated against for exercising his First Amendment right to associate by his police commissioner. The commissioner argued qualified immunity and moved for summary judgment.

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Seventh Circuit Holds That A Milwaukee Deputy Union Vice President Failed To Prove A First Amendment Employment Retaliation Claim

By: Jim Cline and Jordan L. Jones

In Graber v. Clarke, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that a deputy sheriff sergeant, who was also the Union Vice President, failed to prove a First Amendment employment retaliation claim under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the County of Milwaukee and its Sheriff. The Seventh Circuit stated that even though he had presented union complaints he had failed to “establish a causal connection between his constitutionally protected speech and an adverse employment action.”

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Against Illinois Police Union President’s Who Made Shooting Threats Loses First Amendment Retaliation Claim

By: Jim Cline and Jordan L. Jones

In Kafka v. Grady, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted the employer’s summary judgment motion against a former police officer and union president’s First Amendment retaliation claim. The court held that the timing of the officer’s union speech and his alleged deprivations were too attenuated to find that the union speech was a motivating factor behind any adverse employment action.

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U.S. District Court Dismisses Illinois Police Union President’s Suit Alleging Retaliation Following Union Endorsement in Mayor’s Race

police badgeBy: Jim Cline and Jordan L. Jones

In Schmalz v. Village of. Riverside, the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois dismissed a Police Union’s Presidents  which hadalleging retaliation in violation of the First Amendment. The officer alleged that the Village and its officials failed to promote him based on his union activity and endorsement of a former trustee for mayor in the Village election. The court held that the officer had “sufficiently proved a connection between the political activity and the failure to promote.

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Mississippi District Court Finds Correction Officer Can State a Claim for First Amendment Retaliation Following Her Termination after Testifying Against Supervisors

By: Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

barfightIn Lott v. Forrest County, a corrections officer sued the county sheriff’s department and her supervisors alleging she experienced a retaliatory transfer and was ultimately terminated following her testimony at a trial against her supervisors. A Mississippi district court found that the officer could survive a motion for summary judgment on her claim for First Amendment retaliation because her transfer and termination occurred after her testimony and because of her supervisors.

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