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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Appellate Court Rejects Use of Title II of the ADA to Sue for Discrimination In Public Employment

As regular readers of The Employment Brief are aware, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides the basis for many lawsuits filed by current and former employees.  In the employment law arena, plaintiffs usually rely upon Title I of the ADA, which specifically prohibits employment discrimination based on a persons’ disability.  42 U.S.C. 12112(a). Government employees, however, sometimes rely upon Title II of the ADA when filing suit...
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Court Upholds Discipline of Police Officer for Facebook Posts

Over the past two years, there has  been a lot of focus on whether and when an employer may discipline employees for posts they make on blogs and social media sites.  Perhaps most notably, the National Labor Relations Board  ("NLRB") has issued guidance and decisions holding that employees have the right to complain about terms and conditions of employment on sites such as Facebook. In light of this recent trend, it was refreshing to see a recent...
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Law School Has Right To Decide The Qualifications It Wants In Its Professors

Earlier this year, the Court of Specials Appeals found in favor of the University of Baltimore School of Law (UB) in an age discrimination suit brought by Donald Dobkin.  Dobkin v. Univ. of Balt. Sch. of Law, 210 Md. App. 580 (2013). In 2009, Dobkin applied to become a professor at the University.  Instead of hiring the then 56-year-old Dobkin (or hundreds of other applicants), UB hired a 32-year-old female for the position.  Dobkin then sued the...
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Unions, Gangs and Prison Scandals

Over the past two weeks, we have heard a lot about the scandal at the Baltimore City Detention Center, where guards allegedly conspired with members of a notorious prison gang to traffic drugs, cell phones, and sexual favors. In case you missed this, the leader of the gang (the  Black Guerilla Family) fathered five children with four female prison guards and was heard telling an acquaintance in a wiretapped call “This is my jail …. I make every...
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