Nitty Gritty: Employee Lawsuits on Steroids

Posted on August 12, 2014

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1Here’s the next installment in ELGL’s series called “The Nitty Gritty”.  This column gives our members the opportunity to dive deep into local government human resources topics.  ELGL member Kathy Peck, an attorney with Peck, Rubanoff & Hatfield writes today on “Employee Lawsuits on Steroids:”

So you think you have it bad? Trust me, there is always another employer with a “better” story to tell. Consider this story, reproduced with permission of Robin Shea of the office of Constangy, Brooks & Smith in Atlanta, Georgia.

2“Don’t hate me because I’m white.”

A police officer in Georgia was forced to resign and was sure it was because he was white. The fact that he’d left his squad car with the engine running and the window down; backed the car into a light pole; left the car while it wasn’t in “park”; ran a red light; failed to tell dispatchers where he was; caused a wreck when he used a cell phone while driving; drove 20 miles over the speed limit; wrecked his car and couldn’t remember how he’d done it; accidentally shot himself in the foot with his firearm; lost the notebook that contained his incident reports; left his firearm on the steps  to the police department; lost a pager, his gas card and a $100 counterfeit bill that was evidence in a pending case; failed to immediately confiscate a firearm with an altered serial number that someone was attempting to pawn; found a knife in the trunk of his car and had no idea how it got there; lost a suspect’s cell phone; arrested the wrong person and failed to get the K-9 dog he was in charge of recertified, had nothing to do with it. It was because he was white!

So what’s the good news? Case dismissed on summary judgment because no reasonable juror could ever believe that “Barney Fife’s” forced resignation had anything to do with the color of his skin.

Is there any bad news? Well, yes – the time and expenses of litigation. Even though your attorney may be likeable, imagine actually being able to use departmental resources to accomplish something.

And then there was the emotional impact that members of the command staff experienced when they read the complaint.

Worse yet, rumor has it that the captain who was instrumental in convincing Barney to resign decided he couldn’t take it anymore and retired shortly after reading the complaint. This former captain reportedly spends much of his time in retirement watching old episodes of The Andy Griffith Show.

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