Public Employers: Public Safety


Liebert Cassidy Whitmore has had the privilege of representing public safety departments and their command staffs for more than four decades. We understand and appreciate the emergency nature of public safety related employee relations by providing prompt and expert consultation on issues from administrative leave to interrogations to discipline.

As trusted advisors and vigorous litigators, our expertise covers a wide area, including:

  • POBR and FBOR
  • Administrative/criminal investigations
  • Pitchess Motions
  • Brady Issues
  • Labor relations, including collective bargaining, grievances, and unfair labor practice charges
  • Public Records Act requests
  • Wage and hour issues, including FLSA collective action defense
  • Retirement Law, including industrial disability retirements, employment of annuitants and CalPERS appeals
  • Disability and religious interactive process and accommodations
  • Discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims
  • The Military and Veterans Code and USSERA
  • Claims under the California and United States Constitutions (e.g., First Amendment)


The collective breadth of expertise and experience of LCW attorneys is unmatched. Our appellate victories have shaped the way that public safety agencies conduct labor and employment relations on a daily basis. We also author the CPER Pocket Guides on the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act (POBR) and the Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights Act (FBOR).

LCW appreciates the emergency nature of employment issues in the public safety context so we are always available to provide prompt and expert consultation on the array of issues that routinely impact California’s public safety agencies:

Municipal and County Police and Sheriff’s Departments:

Law Enforcement agencies are under immense pressure and face heightened scrutiny. Agencies must deal with new security threats, new technologies and new policing strategies to balance the needs of the community and the safety of their personnel. LCW understands these challenges and tensions. We have assembled a team of leading experts who have spent decades practicing this area of law but also remain vigilant on the current trends and cases effecting law enforcement agencies today. We serve as general counsel to chiefs’ associations.

As legal advisors to law enforcement agencies, we provide ongoing advice, guidance and representation to the agency, working through the sheriff and/or police chief.

We have extensive expertise in advising law enforcement agencies on a wide array of issues, from performance and discipline issues (including internal affairs investigations), to disability accommodation and fitness for duty issues, to labor-management issues. We specialize in advocating for law enforcement departments in administrative hearings (e.g., discipline hearings, grievance arbitrations, and unfair practice charge hearings), and we routinely defend law enforcement (sworn and non-sworn) in civil litigation in both state and federal courts.

Fire Departments:

We provide advice and counsel to fire departments on a myriad of personnel issues, including disciplinary investigations and have extensive experience representing clients in all types of proceedings, including grievances, discipline, and cases before the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). We serve as chief negotiator for fire departments and have unparalleled expertise in wage and hour matters, specifically on how the FLSA applies to fire departments. We are general counsel to chiefs’ associations.


Our firm has expertise in the prosecution of disciplinary appeals involving public safety officers. We are frequently retained to provide advice and representation to public entities regarding high profile incidents involving public safety personnel. For example, we have represented agencies in connection with high-profile uses of force, including officer-involved shootings. a public transportation agency in an arbitration stemming from a high-profile officer-involved shooting, and we represented a city in the prosecution of multiple officers’ terminations after a high-profile use of force incident. When public safety agencies require advice on managing their response to critical incidents and officer misconduct, LCW attorneys are the experts that many agencies across the State look to first for help.

On behalf of both employers and individually named defendants LCW defends complex (class and collective actions) and high-profile litigation through trial and the appellate process (when necessary) in state and federal courts.  We have successfully defended alleged violations of the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act, the Firefighters Bill of Rights Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the California Labor Code, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Fair Employment and Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act, the Military and Veterans Code, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, First Amendment Retaliation, Whistleblower Retaliation, and claims brought under the California and United States Constitutions.

Clients have prevailed in multiple published appellate cases that have helped public safety employers more effectively manage their employees.

Members of our firm have negotiated literally hundreds of memoranda of understanding with all varieties of safety employee groups. We have negotiated virtually every issue within the scope of bargaining, including such issues as: wages, hours, health and retirement benefits, leaves and discipline.

We believe that our experienced and practical approach to negotiations, as well as our problem-solving orientation, results in a smoother and more expeditious negotiating process, fewer sustainable grievances or unfair labor practice charges, and ultimately, a more cost-effective method of collective bargaining.

Our negotiators are experts in all forms of collective bargaining and impasse resolution processes, such as mediation, factfinding and interest arbitration. LCW negotiators have been directly involved in hundreds of impasse resolution proceedings, including mediation, fact-finding and interest arbitrations.

LCW are experts in the implementation of the laws and regulations pertaining to public employee retirement plans, including the Public Employee Retirement System (“PERS”), the County 1937 Retirement Act, and local agency retirement laws, as well as on retiree health benefit issues. In particular, LCW is well versed on the details of the Public Employees Pension Reform Act of 2013 (“PEPRA”) and how the law impacts agency obligations at the bargaining table regarding retirement formulas, employer-employee pension contributions and rules on reportable compensation. In addition, we regularly provide advice and counsel on how to negotiate pension contract amendments, disability retirement procedures and obligations, service credit, GASB issues, unfunded liability issues, retiree health benefits and vested rights issues.

Members of the firm have represented our clients in all phases of proceedings before the Public Employment Relations Board (“PERB”), from consultation and responses to unfair labor practice charges through PERB hearings and court appeals.   This experience is utilized by the firm’s negotiators to identify bargaining practices and positions that could compromise the agency’s position before PERB.

This area of the law is particularly complex, especially for public safety agencies.  A leader in both public safety and wage and hour, LCW guides agencies in such matters as establishing Section 7(k) work periods for safety employees to match their respective work schedules (e.g., 48/96 firefighter work schedules, 12-hour shift police officer work schedules); Shift trading procedures; Travel and training time compensation; Canine and motorcycle officer pay; Compensatory time off (CTO); Application of FLSA regular rate of pay; and FLSA overtime obligations vs. MOU overtime agreements.  Our team has also defended numerous class action lawsuits originating in the public safety arena covering such matters as donning and doffing, meal breaks, off the clock work and CTO.

We regularly provide training to public safety organizations including the California Police Chiefs Association, the California Fire Chiefs Association, Women Leaders in Law Enforcement and the Fire District Association of California.  We have had the honor of training hundreds of public safety personnel through our classes including our Fire Captains Toolbox, Internal Affairs seminar, and at the annual LCW Public Sector Employment Law Conference, the latter two of which are both POST approved.  Our attorneys also present for CPCA’s Role of the Chief class, POST’s management course and through our statewide network of consortiums including those dedicated to fire management.  Explore our training calendar to find upcoming sessions near you.

Find a Public Safety Attorney
Deeply Rooted in California
Find a Public Safety Attorney
Deeply Rooted in California
Find a Public Safety Attorney
Deeply Rooted in California
Find a Public Safety Attorney
Deeply Rooted in California
Find a Public Safety Attorney
Deeply Rooted in California

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