Will Aitchison on 04/08/2021

Q & A

From Washington:Question: Can an employer mandate/require an officer to get the COVID-19 vaccine to continue working? Do you see guilds/unions challenging this and how do you see courts ruling?Answer: There’s not a lot of law on whether a mandatory vaccine requirement would be a negotiable topic. Th

W Will Aitchison
Will Aitchison on 04/08/2021

Fire Captain’s Duties ‘Substantially Similar’ To Those Of Secretary

Under a Nevada Statute, an em­ployer may offer temporary, light-duty employment to an injured employee in lieu of paying temporary total disability benefits to that employee. The statute provides that for a temporary, light-duty employment offer to be valid, the offered position must be “substantial

W Will Aitchison
Will Aitchison on 04/08/2021

The Term ‘Residency’ Can Have Many Meanings

The Charter of the City of Wilm­ington, Delaware requires that officers of the Wilmington Police Department reside in the City for the first five years of their employment. Under Delaware’s unusual system, the Charter was enact­ed by the Delaware legislature, known as the General Assembly. The Gener

W Will Aitchison
Will Aitchison on 04/08/2021

On-Call Status And Line Of Duty Deaths

Dale Newman was the Police Chief for the City of Leadwood, Missouri. In that capacity, Newman “was always subject to call.”Newman also held a second job as a warehouse worker with UPS in Crystal City, Missouri, where he loaded package delivery trucks. On August 27, 2014, Newman was loading delivery

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Will Aitchison on 04/08/2021

Firefighters, Families Lose Lawsuit Over Fatal House Fire

Three firefighters perished in a house fire that occurred on September 24, 2016 in the City of Wilmington, Delaware. Three other firefighters were badly injured in the same fire.The three injured firefighters – Fire­fighter Brad Speakman, Senior Fire­fighter Terrance Tate, and Lieutenant John Cawthr

W Will Aitchison
Will Aitchison on 04/08/2021

Torts And Sexual Harassment

A tort can be loosely defined as “a non-contractual civil wrong.” Some torts, including negligence and some forms of product liability, do not require any particular intent on the part of a wrongdoer. Others, most of which are collected under the heading of inten­tional torts, require that the wrong

W Will Aitchison
Will Aitchison on 04/08/2021

Probationary Employee Not Entitled To Details Of Basis For Termination

James Fermin was hired by the Law­rence Police Department in Massachusetts in April 2016. After completion of the police academy, Fermin was sworn in as a full-time officer on October 14, 2016. Fermin was on probationary status until October 14, 2017.On August 2, 2017, Mayor Daniel Rivera gave Fermi

W Will Aitchison
Will Aitchison on 04/08/2021

SWAT Sniper Entitled To Jury Trial In Facebook Case

You know a court’s opinion will be anything but run-of-the-mill when it begins: “Social media has allowed Americans to connect with friends in far-flung places and to share their opinions on topics both mundane and momentous. But social media can also tempt people to impulsively make inflammatory co

W Will Aitchison
Will Aitchison on 04/08/2021

PTSD Caused Marital Problems, Not Vice-Versa

Christopher Staford was a Crest Hill police officer in Illinois. He was working as a patrol officer on Decem­ber 11, 2010, when he and a suspect exchanged gunfire. During the inci­dent, Staford’s gun jammed. Shortly after the incident, Staford went to the emergency room, where he complained of feeli

W Will Aitchison
Will Aitchison on 04/08/2021

Non-Disciplinary Questioning Does Not Violate Bill Of Rights

Errol Cruz worked as a senior trooper for the Maryland State Police. In February 2018, his supervisor, Ser­geant Torres, noticed that “he could not verify Cruz’s location” using a GPS device installed in Cruz’s patrol car and discovered that he was not able to log into the GPS device through­out Cru

W Will Aitchison
Will Aitchison on 04/08/2021

Challenges To The ‘Public Policy’ Doctrine In Illinois

Parties to contracts such as labor agreements can choose to substitute arbitration for a court resolution of contractual disputes. With two notable exceptions, final and binding arbitration of grievances is just that: final and binding. As the Supreme Court held in United Steelworkers of America v.

W Will Aitchison
Will Aitchison on 03/03/2021

‘Tyrant’ Sheriff Subject To Recall

By many accounts, the tenure of Benton County Sheriff Jerry Hatcher in Washington had been a tumultuous one. As described by the Washington Supreme Court, “During his short reign as sheriff, Hatcher created a culture of control that led to a hostile work environment for many, if not all, of his empl

W Will Aitchison
Will Aitchison on 03/03/2021

No Need To Track Down Att orney For Garrity Warning

In March of 2016, the Alaska Department of Corrections (DOC) received a complaint from one of Sergeant David Wilson’s subordinates alleging, among other grievances, that Wilson had pressured a second subordinate to provide him with her prescribed narcotic medications. When interviewed, the second su

W Will Aitchison
Will Aitchison on 03/03/2021

Firefighter’s Training Injury Not Suffered During ‘Emergency’

Sean T. Heneghan was a firefighter for the City of Evanston, Illinois. In June 2016, Heneghan participated in a voluntary live fire exercise held at the Northeastern Illinois Public Safety Training Academy. His participation in this exercise was part of a firefighter training course, and his attenda

W Will Aitchison
Will Aitchison on 03/03/2021

When Must Federal Employment Claims Be Arbitrated?

John Brooks and Gregory Simmons were police officers for the City of Pekin, Illinois. Brooks and Simmons sued the City and a number of Department employees in federal court. They alleged that their problems began when Simmons made an internal harassment complaint against his shift commander, Lieuten

W Will Aitchison
Will Aitchison on 03/03/2021

Release Of Disciplinary Records Does Not Violate Constitution

Responding to the police reform movement, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced in June that he would end New Jersey’s decades-long practice of shielding the identities of law enforcement officers receiving major discipline for misconduct. Believing he could best improve the public’s t

W Will Aitchison
Will Aitchison on 03/03/2021

Public Policy And At-Will Employment

Detective Brandon Potts worked for the Devils Lake Police Department in North Dakota. North Dakota has no statewide collective bargaining laws, and many public safety officers are considered “at-will” employees who can be terminated at the will of the employer. Employees who are at-will have no job

W Will Aitchison
Will Aitchison on 03/03/2021

The Timing Of A Demand To Bargain

On August 17, 2016, the Orchard Park Police Benevolent Association (PBA) filed an improper practice charge with New York’s Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) alleging that the Town of Orchard Park had committed several unfair labor practices. One of the claims related to the replacement of a p

W Will Aitchison
Will Aitchison on 03/03/2021

Psychological Problems From Demotion Not ‘Service Related’

Edward Marquez worked for the County of Los Angeles for approximately 20 years as an officer for the Los Angeles County Office of Public Safety. When that agency merged into the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Marquez was conditionally offered the position of deputy sheriff, provided he cou

W Will Aitchison
Will Aitchison on 03/03/2021

Firefighter Loses Discrimination Verdict On Appeal

In 1987, the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department hired Faye Davis, an African American female, as a firefighter. Beginning in 2007, Davis took the promotional exam to become a Chief Fire Officer (CFO) four years in a row but was not promoted. Davis sued, claiming she was the victim of race and gender

W Will Aitchison
Will Aitchison on 03/03/2021

Last Chance Agreement Can Waive Title VII Discrimination Claims

Michael Snowden is an African American male who formerly worked as a sergeant for the United States Park Police (USPP) supervising other law enforcement officers in the Communications Section. While working a shift in August 2004, Snowden received a call from his relative, Brian Lamont. On the call,

W Will Aitchison
Will Aitchison on 02/02/2021

Officer Loses Cell Phone Claim To Qualified Immunity

In the public discussion about the principle of “qualified immunity” virtually no mention is made of the fact that qualified immunity bars many lawsuits by public employees alleging constitutional violations by their employers. A recent case out of Ohio provides a good illustration of how qualified

W Will Aitchison
Will Aitchison on 02/02/2021

The High Standard For PTSD Claims In Some States

A case involving Huntington Firefighter John Angle shows the difficulty of establishing a PTSD workers’ compensation claim in a state with a “physical injury” statute such as West Virginia.Several states have workers’ compensation laws similar to Section 23-4 of the West Virginia Code, which provide

W Will Aitchison
Will Aitchison on 02/02/2021

Disabled Corrections Officer Unable To Perform Essential Job Functions

Stephen Mannan worked as a corrections officer for the Colorado Department of Corrections. In January 2017, Mannan experienced chronic hip pain and was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and told he would need a hip replacement. As Mannan was morbidly obese, his doctor advised him to lose approximately 5

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