Firefighter Bill of Rights
Whenever you are subjected to an interrogation, you have the following rights under Florida Statutes:
- Before you are questioned, you must first receive written notice of sufficient detail of the investigation to reasonably apprise you of the nature of the investigation.
- Before you are questioned, you must be given the names of all “complainants.”
- Before you are questioned, you must be informed of the name and rank of the officer in charge of the investigation, all interrogators and all persons who will be present during the investigation.
- The interrogation must take place at the facility where the investigating officer is assigned, or at the facility which has jurisdiction over the place where the incident under investigation allegedly occurred, as designated by the investigating officer.
- The investigation must be held at a reasonable time of day, preferably when you are on duty, unless immediate action is required.
- The interrogation must be of reasonable duration and you must be permitted reasonable periods for rest and personal necessities.
- You cannot be subjected to offensive language.
- You cannot be offered any incentive as an inducement to answer any questions.
- A recording or other complete record of the interrogation must be made.
- You are entitled to a copy of the recording or record of the interrogate without charge.
- You are entitled to have a union representative present during the interrogation.
- You cannot be disciplined, threatened or discriminated against for exercising your rights under this law.
Garrity Rights and Public Employees
In the event a you are summoned or compelled by your employer to provide a statement, you should read into the record the following statement (if recorded) or insist that the following statement be included in the record (if handwritten, typed or electronically submitted) to ensure that your Garrity Rights are protected:
"On (date & time) at (place), I was ordered by [Name of Officer and Department/Employer Name] to submit this statement. I give this statement as a condition of employment. I have no alternative but to abide by this order or face discipline for insubordination, the penalty for which could include termination.
It is my belief and understanding that the [Department/Employer Name] requires this statement solely and exclusively for internal and administrative purposes and will not release it to any other agency or be used for criminal prosecution.
As such, I rely specifically upon the protection afforded me under the doctrines set forth in Garrity v. New Jersey (also called the Garrity Rule).
For any and all other purposes, I hereby reserve my Constitutional right to remain silent under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution."
Your Right to a Pre-Termination Hearing
In Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill, the United States Supreme Court held that in event a non-probationary public employee is noticed by their employer that they intend to terminate or otherwise impose material sanctions upon the employee as a result of discipline, the employee is entitled to a hearing before the disciplinary action is imposed.
However, this hearing is not required to be evidentiary in nature and the employer is not required to provide the employee an opportunity to cross-examine their accusers.
To satisfy the requirements of Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill, the pre-termination hearing need only include the following:
- Oral or written notice of the charges and time/location of the hearing
- An explanation of the employer’s evidence
- An opportunity for the employee to be heard in response to the proposed discipline (a chance to tell their “side of the story.”)
Note: Since the ruling was initially handed down, the courts have limited the remedies available to employees if their Loudermill rights are violated. Specifically, violation of an employee’s Loudermill rights is not, in and of itself, grounds for rescinding the discipline if the employer can prove that just cause existed.
Right to Union Representation
In NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc., the United States Supreme Court upheld an NLRB decision that employees have a right to union representation at investigatory interviews. These rights have become known as Weingarten Rights.
If you are called to a meeting with management where you believe that discipline or termination may result, provide the following statement to management’s representative and await the arrival of your union representative:
"If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my union representative, officer, or steward be present at this meeting. Until my representative arrives, I choose not to participate in this discussion."
Note: If you are given a direct order prior to the arrival of your union representative, immediately comply with the order unless doing so would (a) impair the health or safety of you or another person(s) or (b) constitute a violation of the law – “Obey now, grieve later”.
Page Last Updated: Nov 15, 2017 (19:21:48)