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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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...
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Social Media Strikes Again

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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EEOC May Sue State Court for Discrimination in Federal Court

A federal court ruled that a Pennsylvania state court that allegedly fired an employee because of her age does not have 11th Amendment immunity to avoid a lawsuit on the fired employee's behalf brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.  EEOC v. Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny Cnty., No. 14-899 (W.D. Pa., Oct. 15, 2014). In February 2012, a staffing agency assigned 70 year old  Carolyn...
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Video Camera Hidden in Teddy Bear Does Not Violate Rights of Drinking School Teacher

Garrett Wozniak
Garrett Wozniak
10/08/2014
Government officials are entitled to qualified immunity from liability under Section 1983 when their discretionary acts do not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known. In Chadwell v. Brewer, No. 2:14-CV-00003 (W.D. Va. Oct. 1, 2014), a federal district court concluded that qualified immunity insulated from liability school district employees who hid a video camera in a teddy bear in...
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Supreme Court Limits Scope of Compulsory Membership Dues for Government Unions

Frank Kollman
Frank Kollman
07/01/2014
The Supreme Court has ruled that a mother receiving state financial assistance to care for her disabled child does not have to pay union dues. Can you believe that there were four justices who disagreed with that ruling, and the Secretary of Labor has already criticized the decision? Certainly there has to be more to the story. The issue the Court was asked to decide was the result of increased union power over governmental officials it helps to...
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