Police Chief May Be Personally Liable for Arresting a Subordinate Officer in Retaliation for His Politics

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Brennen Johnson

schemingIn Williams v. City of Alexander, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit affirmed a decision to deny qualified immunity to an Arkansas Police Chief who allegedly had a subordinate officer arrested in retaliation for supporting the City’s mayor. Although qualified immunity usually protects public officials from personal liability for actions carried out in their official roles, the Court determined that the Chief could not assert qualified immunity for withholding exculpatory information in an arrest warrant of an officer as a means of retaliating against the officer’s political alignment.

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Random Drug Testing Procedures Did Not Violate New York Correctional Officer’s Privacy Rights

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Brennen Johnson

urine sampleIn Allen v. Schiff, a U.S. Court of Appeals determined that a random drug testing procedure did not violate a New York correctional officer’s Fourth Amendment rights. The former correctional officer sued Sullivan County, New York, claiming that the County violated her privacy rights when it required her to perform a random, intrusive urine test for drugs. The Court found that the random testing did not violate the officer’s Constitutional rights because the corrections officer had a substantially diminished expectation of privacy, the drug test “was intrusive but not inappropriately so,” and the County had a compelling interest in effecting the test.

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Police Officer Makes Plausible Claim That City Retaliated After He Won A Reverse Discrimination Case

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Brennen Johnson

corrupt mayorIn Smith v. City of Inkster, a U.S. District Court determined that a police officer stated a plausible claim against the City of Inkster, Michigan, and its Mayor and allowed the lawsuit to proceed to trial. In his lawsuit, the Officer claimed that the City retaliated against him by denying his application for disability benefits after he filed a lawsuit. After the City moved for a judgment against the Officer’s lawsuit before trial, the Court determined that the Officer had presented direct evidence supporting his claims and that he deserved to present his case at trial.

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Chief Who was Fired after his Wife Ran for Mayor and Lost May Sue for Freedom of Association Infringement

By Mitchell Riese and Mitchel Wilson

private v publicIn motions before the trial court to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, in Allred v. City of Carbon Hill, denied the motions and permitted Allred’s claims to go to trial.

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Court Dismisses Female Firefighter’s Retaliation Claim Against the City Because She Could Not Demonstrate the City Took Adverse Employment Actions Against Her

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Brennen Johnson

dismissalIn Burns v. City of Utica, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a female firefighter’s lawsuit against the City of Utica, New York. The Firefighter claimed in her lawsuit that the City had retaliated against her for reporting an incident of sexual assault by denying her application for disability benefits. After reviewing a U.S. district court’s decision to dismiss the Firefighter’s lawsuit, the Court of Appeals determined that the dismissal was warranted where the Firefighter failed to show that any negative consequences stemming from the denial of her disability application was attributable to the City.

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A U.S. District Court In Florida Denies An Employer’s Summary Judgment Motion In Part As To A Former Paramedic’s First Amendment Retaliation Claim

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Jordan L. Jones

EMT FLIn Holbrook v. Lee Cnty., a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida denied in part the employer, Lee County’s summary judgment motion against a former paramedic’s First Amendment retaliation claim for speaking out about the Employer’s Medicare and Medicaid billing practices.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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In Closely Watched Decision, Supreme Court declines to Hold Mandatory Union Dues Clauses Unconstitutional — For Now

By Jim Cline

Supreme Court JusticesIn a decision on a case that had presented significant financial and operational important to Public Employee Unions, the United States Supreme Court held this Monday in Harris v Quinn that the Illinois law, as applied to a special class of home health care workers, unconstitutionally imposed a “fair share” dues payment  requirement.

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