Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Police Officers May Legally Lie about Being Sick

In California, a police officer who lies about being sick and gets caught not only gets to keep his job, but can force his employer to give him prior notice of a status check. Don’t you wish the private sector worked like this?

When police officer Paterson called in sick, his supervisor was suspicious. He therefore sent Legaspi to Paterson’s home to check on his status. When he arrived, Paterson was absent. Legaspi then telephoned Paterson on his cell phone and Paterson claimed to be home, sick. Paterson sued for violation of his rights under the Public Safety Officers’ Bill of Rights Act (Gov. Code, §§ 3300-3313). The trial court ruled for the city, holding that the Act did not apply to a “sick check.” However, the Court of Appeal reversed, ruling that the police department’s actions amounted to an investigation and interrogation. As such, according to the California Court of Appeal, Officer Paterson should have been given prior notification of the investigation under the Act. See Paterson v. City of Los Angeles (2009) 174 Cal.App.4th 1393.

In short, the Appeals Court ruled that a public safety officer should be told in advance whether someone is going to verify a sick day--which makes it impossible for employers to effectively check whether a California public safety officer is lying about being sick.

No comments: