Fourth Circuit Denies Alexandria Firefighter's Race Discrimination Claim

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently denied an Alexandria, Virginia firefighter's claim that he was denied a promotion to a paramedic position because he is Black.  Lyons v. City of Alexandria, No. 20-1656 (4th Cir. 6/1/22). The Court affirmed a grant of summary judgment to the City of Alexandria, finding that the Appellant had misunderstood the City's promotion policy and failed to present any evidence of racial...
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New York State Trial Court Denies Union’s Request for Preliminary Injunction to Restore Unvaccinated Employees

Jordan Dunham
Jordan Dunham
05/18/2022
On April 21, 2022, New York Judge Judy H. Kim denied a request for a preliminary injunction filed by various unions on behalf of approximately 1,300 unvaccinated New York City (NY City) employees who were terminated from their positions on February 11, 2022.  The Plaintiffs in this case seek declaratory relief from the court, claiming their termination was in violation of their due process rights as well as a permanent injunction to require the...
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Court Allows Topless Teacher's Discrimination Claim to Proceed

A New York Court recently addressed a novel question: whether a female teacher who was fired after a semi-nude picture of her became available to her employer could assert a viable equal protection clause against the school district.  The plaintiff was a probationary middle school teacher in a public school.  She was terminated after the school district came into possession of a semi-nude picture of her.  The picture in question was a...
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Eric Paltell Presents on Collective Bargaining at Virginia Association of Counties Meeting

On May 1, 2021, Virginia's new law permitting local governments to enact collective bargaining legislation for employees took effect. On November 15, 2021,  K&S Partner Eric Paltell joined Virginia Senator Jennifer Boysko, Loudoun County Administrator Tim Hemstreet, and attorney Cynthia Hudson on a panel discussing the new law at the Virginia Association of Counties Annual Meeting in Norfolk.  Eric's presentation focused on steps...
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Fourth Circuit Rules Termination of Public Employee For Disclosing Confidential Information Not Retaliatory Discharge

Bernadette Hunton
Bernadette Hunton
06/02/2021
In a recent case involving termination of a public employee who disclosed confidential information about an ongoing investigation, the Fourth Circuit held that the employee’s termination was not retaliatory-discharge for the employee’s exercise of his First Amendment rights.  Billioni v. Bryant, No. 20-1420 (4th Cir. 5/25/21). Billioni worked for the York County Sheriff’s Office.  His wife worked for a local news station.  Following the...
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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)...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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