First Amendment Protections Mean Officer’s Claim Proceeds

Darrell VanDeusen
Darrell VanDeusen
01/13/2021
That pesky old First Amendment “freedom of speech thing” has been in the news a lot lately.  The issue of whether a public employee’s speech is protected has Supreme Court underpinnings. In Pickering v. Bd. of Ed. of Twp. High Sch. Dist., 391 U.S. 563 (1968) the Court created a balancing test that looks to whether an employee (1) spoke on a matter of public concern; (2) spoke as a private citizen rather than a public employee; and (3)...
read more

Virginia General Assembly Passes Bill Authorizing Public Sector Collective Bargaining

As the 2020 Session came to a close this weekend, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation authorizing  local governments to enact laws giving their employees the right to collectively bargain.  If, as expected, it is signed by Governor Northam, employees of Virginia counties, cities, towns and school boards will gain the opportunity to require their employing government to hold a vote on whether or not to enact collective bargaining...
read more

State Of Maryland Cannot Be Sued In Federal Court For State Law Discrimination Claims

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that Maryland's employment discrimination statute (FEPA), Md. Code Ann., St. Gov't § 20-601 et seq., does not waive the State's immunity to be sued in federal court under that law for alleged employment discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation.  In Pense v. Maryland Dept' of Public Safety and Correctional Services, No. 18-1554 (4th Cir. June 11, 2019), the appellate court concluded that the State...
read more

Employee Had No Privacy Expectation In Work Emails

Garrett Wozniak
Garrett Wozniak
09/26/2018
In a decision last week, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that a Penn State University employee did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in her work emails because the University owned and operated the email account at issue. In 2015, the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General (OAG) filed criminal charges -- including counts of forgery and computer-related offenses -- against a Penn State employee.  The prosecutor and OAG...
read more

Supreme Court Rules That Public Sector Agency Fees Are Unconstitutional

On the last opinion day of the 2017-2018 term, the Supreme Court issued a long-expected decision prohibiting public sector collective bargaining agreements from requiring employees who are not members of the union to pay agency fees. In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Alito, the Court overturned 41 year old precedent and ruled that requiring non-members to pay a fee to the union representing them violates the free speech rights of employees who...
read more

Baltimore Prosecutor Who Opposed Mosby’s Election Loses First Amendment Challenge

Keri Borzilleri, a former high-ranking Assistant State’s Attorney (ASA) who worked for nine years in the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s office, was fired without cause just four days after Marilyn Mosby took office as the newly elected lead prosecutor in 2015. Though no explanation was publicly given, Borzilleri was likely terminated for having supported Mosby’s political opponent, Gregg Bernstein, during the election cycle. According to...
read more

Social Media Strikes Again

Randi Klein Hyatt
Randi Klein Hyatt
03/24/2017
Here is another tale of social media posts and “likes” getting an employee into hot water.  Again, the culprit is Facebook.  In Grutzmacher, et al. v. Howard County, et al., No. 15-2066, (4th Cir. March 20, 2017), the plaintiffs were a former Howard County, Maryland, Battalion Chief with the Maryland Department of Fire and Rescue Services (“Department”), and a County volunteer paramedic.  While the Court’s opinion sets forth the...
read more

Fourth Circuit Finds Fire Captains Eligible for Overtime

In a case with potentially far-reaching implications for fire departments in Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas, and West Virginia, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that Fairfax County, Virginia fire captains are non-exempt employees entitled to overtime compensation. Morrison v. County of Fairfax, No. 14-2308 (June 21, 2016).  The Court reversed a grant of summary judgment in favor of the County and granted summary...
read more

Public Sector Unions Will Live to Fight Another Day

In addition to being the final arbiter of cases raising questions of federal law, the United States Supreme Court is sometimes asked to stay the scheduled execution of death row inmates.  With the unexpected passing of Justice Antonin Scalia on February 13th, the Court may have granted a stay of of execution to labor unions  representing government employees. On January 11, 2016, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments  in Friedrichs v. California...
read more

Supreme Court Declines to Hear Baltimore County Pension Case

On November 3, 2014, the United States Supreme Court denied Baltimore County’s petition for review of the Fourth Circuit’s decision which held Baltimore County’s retirement plan violated the ADEA. Balt. Cnty. v. EEOC, No. 14-7, cert. denied 11/3/14. In 1945, Baltimore County established a retirement plan for its employees. The plan provided that employees could retire and receive pension benefits at age 65, regardless of their length of...
read more
Email Updates

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Loading