Sunday, December 11, 2011

Decisions of interest involving Government and Administrative Law

Decisions of interest involving Government and Administrative Law
Source: Justia December 10, 2011

Court: U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals
Docket: 11-3031
December 5, 2011
Judge: Prost
Areas of Law: Government & Administrative Law, Labor & Employment Law
Plaintiff applied for a position with the Department of Labor and responded "no" to whether he had been convicted or put on probation during the preceding 10 years. After he was hired, he signed the form, certifying the answers as true. It came out that plaintiff had been on probation for disturbing the peace He insisted that he had been arrested and placed on "informal probation," but not convicted. His attorney explained that plaintiff had pled guilty; the order stated that the plea was vacated and that "a plea of not guilty be entered, and that the accusatory filing is dismissed. ... does NOT relieve the defendant of the obligation to disclose the conviction" in application for public office. The Department terminated plaintiff during his probationary period. An ALJ dismissed his appeal, finding that the firing was based on conduct during the probationary period. The Merit System Protection Board and Federal Circuit denied appeals. To invoke 5 C.F.R. 315.806(c) for MSPB jurisdiction, plaintiff would have to identify facts in the record amounting to a non-frivolous assertion that the Department actually relied on a pre-employment condition in terminating his employment. Plaintiff failed to do so; the termination letter expressly referenced his signature on the application after he was hired.

Court: Arkansas Supreme Court
Docket: 11-526
December 1, 2011
Judge: Goodson
Areas of Law: Business Law, Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law
Appellants were retired police officers who did not receive the benefit of all the monthly benefit increases for retired members of a municipal police pension and relief fund. The increases were authorized by the fund's Board of Trustees. Appellants mounted a multi-pronged challenge to the increase in benefits. The circuit court granted summary judgment for the Board. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in (1) ruling that the additional payments were authorized by Ark. Code Ann. 24-11-102(a); (2) finding that the statute did not constitute an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority; (3) finding that the Board did not breach its fiduciary duties by increasing benefits to current retirees and not to future retirees, an action that was expressly authorized by statute; and (4) in ruling that the statute, as applied, did not violate the equal protection clause of the state Constitution as there was a rational basis for the Board's disparate treatment of current and future retirees.

Court: U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
Docket: 10-3766
December 6, 2011
Judge: Guy
Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Communications Law, Constitutional Law, Labor & Employment Law
The city disbanded its dive team because of budget cuts, after which two children drowned. Plaintiff, a fire department employee and member of the disbanded dive team, spoke at a city council meeting, indicating that the budget cuts caused the deaths and would cause more deaths. Plaintiff was ordered to serve unpaid suspension, equivalent to three 24 hour shifts, on grounds of insubordination, malfeasance, misfeasance, dishonesty, failure of good behavior, and conduct unbecoming of an officer. After a grievance hearing the mayor affirmed the suspension, finding that plaintiff’s statements had been false. The district court granted summary judgment for the city. The Sixth Circuit remanded for determination of whether the statements were false; whether any false statements were knowingly or recklessly made; whether a reasonable official would have believed any false statements were knowingly or recklessly made; and, if necessary, whether plaintiff’s interest in speaking as a citizen on a matter of public concern outweighed the city’s interest in promoting the efficiency of the public services it performs through its employees.

Court: U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals
Docket: 10-15015, 10-14833
   December 6, 2011
Judge: Barkett
Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Labor & Employment Law
Plaintiff filed a complaint seeking declaratory and injunctive relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 for alleged violations of her rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, claiming that defendant fired her from her job as an editor because of sex discrimination. Plaintiff also claimed that her constitutional rights were violated because defendant terminated her employment due to her medical condition, known as Gender Identity Disorder. The district court granted summary judgment to plaintiff on her sex discrimination claim and granted summary judgment to defendant on plaintiff's medical discrimination claim. Both parties timely appealed. The court held that a government agent violated the Equal Protection Clause's prohibition of sex-based discrimination when he or she fired a transgender or transsexual employee because of his or her gender non-conformity. The court also held that defendant had advanced no reason that could qualify as a governmental purpose, much less an "important" governmental purpose, and even less than that, a "sufficiently important government purpose" that was achieved by firing plaintiff because of her gender non-conformity. Therefore, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of plaintiff on her sex-discrimination claim. In light of this decision, which provided plaintiff with all the relief she sought, there was no need to address plaintiff's cross-appeal.

Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at

Challenging Adverse Personnel Decisions at

The Disability Benefits E-book: at

Layoff, Preferred Lists at


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