Friday, October 07, 2005

Follow up: Supreme Court modifies July opinion against Police Union in dispute with City of Omaha in retaliation claim but still upholds ruling in City's favor. Following 8th Circuit decisions Spears v. Mo. Dept. of Corr. & Human Resources, 210 F.3d 850 (8th Cir. 2000) and Meyers v. Starkethe Supreme Court holds that it will apply Title VII definition of "adverse employment decisions" to public employee first amendment retaliation claims. Fraternal Order of Police v. County of Douglas, (modified opinion) 270 Neb. 469 Filed October 7, 2005. No. S-04-611. For public employee free speech retaliation claims:" In Spears v. Mo. Dept. of Corr. & Human Resources,, 210 F.3d 850 (8th Cir. 2000), a title VII action, the plaintiff brought a retaliation claim against the department of corrections. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the department, concluding that the plaintiff had failed to establish any adverse employment action and, thus, had not presented a prima facie case of retaliation. The court of appeals affirmed. To establish a prima facie case of retaliation, a plaintiff must show, among other things, that the plaintiff suffered an adverse employment action at the hands of the employer. See id. "An adverse employment action is a tangible change in working conditions that produces a material employment disadvantage." Id. at 853. "Termination, reduction in pay or benefits, and changes in employment that significantly affect an employee's future career prospects meet this standard . . . but minor changes in working conditions that merely inconvenience an employee or alter an employee's work responsibilities do not . . . ." (Citation omitted.) Id. See, also, Meyers v. Starke, 420 F.3d 738 (8th Cir. 2005) (employing title VII language as to what constitutes adverse employment action in First Amendment case)."

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