Juvenile Services Worker Reinstated
In November, 2012, the MCEA secured yet another victory for one of its members, winning the reinstatement of a wrongfully terminated employee, with full back pay and all benefits. The employee was terminated with prejudice from his position with the Department of Juvenile Services. He pleaded his case through the steps of the State Employees Appeals Process, and ultimately had a full contested case hearing at the Office of Administrative Hearings, during which the State, through representation by the Office of the Attorney General, called witnesses to testify to the reasons that it believed the employee should not just be terminated for, allegations which, if publicized, would bring the State into disrepute.
MCEA had represented the employee from the initial filing of his appeal, and attorney Hillary Galloway Davis handled the case before the Administrative Law Judge. The employee denied any wrongdoing, indicating that he had at all times conducted himself in a manner so as to reflect favorably upon the State, and further, that the State had utterly failed to prove and wrongdoing on the employee’s part.
The employee and MCEA prevailed! The ALJ ordered that the termination be reversed and rescinded, finding that the State had not met its burden to show that the employee had been properly terminated. Further, the ALJ ordered that the employee be reinstated, with full back pay and benefits from the date of his illegal termination. The State has opted not to appeal and this MCEA member is currently being processed for reinstatement!!
Correctional Officer Wins Victory at OAH
On July 23, 2012 Lawrence Ekwutife, Correctional Officer II with the Department of Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS)was suspended for nine days for acts of alleged misconduct of March 29, 2012 while escorting a maximum security prisoner at a local hospital. The charges included insubordination, sleeping on duty, failing to secure accurate and timely entries in the logbook, and making false and fraudulent statements. Officer Ekwutife called Michael Keeney, Labor Relations Specialist for MCEA to come to his assistance. A hearing was held on October 25, 2012 at the Office of Administrative Hearings in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Through their witnesses, Management alleged that while Officer Ekwutife slept on duty an unidentified male nurse took a picture of him sleeping and sent it electronically to a subordinate officer who was on the same detail. Sometime thereafter the subordinate allegedly reported the incident and provided a copy of the picture to the Assistant Warden.
Keeney expertly asserted that Management’s case consisted only of hearsay evidence, and that Management failed to produce any direct evidence to support the imposition of a nine-day suspension. Keeney next argued that Management had also failed to prove that Officer Ekwutife gave a false statement when he denied that anyone took a picture of him – if in fact Management’s allegation was that the officer was asleep or at least inattentive while on duty, the officer’s statement denying awareness that his picture had been taken did not rise to the level of dishonesty, fraud, deceit, misrepresentation or illegality. Instead it may at best only be an inaccurate report, untrue by mistake or accident or made in good faith. Keeney went on to conclude that although hearsay evidence is admissible at the OAH, it cannot reasonably be the sole basis to support a nine-day suspension. Administrative Law Judge, Judith Jacobson agreed with and ordered that the employee’s nine day suspension be reversed and rescinded and that Management restore Officer Ekwutife any lost time, compensation, status and benefits. Another win by MCEA’s knowledgeable and always prepared Labor Relations Staff.
Social Services Worker Reinstated
In July, 2012, the MCEA secured yet another victory for one of its members, winning the reinstatement of a wrongfully terminated employee, with full back pay and all benefits. The employee was terminated with prejudice from his position with the Department of Human Resources – Department of Social Services. He appealed through the State Employee Grievance process, and ultimately had a two day hearing at the OAH, during which the State called five witnesses to testify to the reasons that it believed the employee should not just be terminated, but terminated with prejudice. MCEA had represented the employee from the initial filing of his appeal, and attorney Hillary Galloway Davis handled the case before the Administrative Law Judge. The employee denied any wrongdoing, but further demanded reinstatement due to the Agency’s failure to give him notice of the disciplinary action within the 30 days required by law. The Agency vehemently disagreed, indicating that all efforts had been made to notify the employee, but ultimately, the employee and MCEA prevailed. The ALJ ordered that the termination be reversed and rescinded, and that the employee be restored any lost time, compensation, status and/or benefits lost during the illegal termination. The employee, an MCEA member, been reinstated and is now back on the payroll!
Sheriff’s Deputy Ordered Reinstated after Termination Reversed
Baltimore City Sheriff’s Deputy James Lane has literally taken a bullet in the furtherance of his duties. He was shot in the face line of duty in September, 2008, and as a result of his efforts to get an answer to how that shooting took place, he was terminated by the Sheriff. MCEA provided representation to Deputy Lane through his trial board under the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights, and while the trial board ruled that the Deputy should keep his job, the Sheriff nonetheless ordered that the Deputy be terminated in January, 2012. MCEA’s Board approved an appeal to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, and Hillary Davis, who had handled the trial board, also argued Deputy Lane’s case before the Court. On August 10, 2012, Judge Jeffrey Geller issued an opinion and order, finding the Sheriff had both improperly relied on certain evidence in terminating Lane, but that he had failed to follow certain mandatory provisions of the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights. As such, the Court reversed the termination, ordered that Deputy Lane be reinstated with full back pay and benefits, and further ordered that the “Baltimore City Sheriff’s Office shall take all necessary actions to carry out this Court’s Order.” Despite this order, the Sheriff has indicated his intent to appeal, and Deputy Lane will continue to be represented by MCEA throughout that process. Lane has agreed to attend MCEA’s October, 2012 Convention, to share his story with the delegates present and to personally thank MCEA for its continuing efforts on his behalf.
Unfair Labor Practice Complaint filed against Salisbury University results in victory for Police Officers
In May, 2012, officials at Salisbury University advised the officers of the SU Police Department that their schedules were being changed from a 12-hour shift to an 8-hour shift. The change would present a hardship for many officers, yet the University refused to negotiate the change with MCEA, the officers’ collective bargaining representative. So, MCEA filed an Unfair Labor Practice Complaint against the University with the State Higher Education Labor Relations Board. After filing and service of the complaint, the University relented, and switched the schedule back to the schedule sought by the officers.