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JD, Southwestern Law School, Los Angeles

BA, University of California, Santa Barbara

Police Sergeant v. City Police Department (2023) – Convinced a police sergeant to withdraw his appeal of his termination for 224 findings of misconduct that included: failure to supervise; failure to activate body-worn camera footage; violation of ride-along policies; prohibited associations, inappropriate on-duty text messages; and dishonesty.

Sergeant v. City (2022) – Won arbitration in which Sergeant claimed back pay after his termination for several violations of the Police Department Manual relating to a single vehicle collision involving a high-ranking City official.

Correctional Deputy v. Sheriff’s Department (2021) – Correctional deputy was terminated for abusing his authority and then lying about his actions. The correctional deputy unnecessarily searched an inmate’s cell strictly in response to the inmate’s disrespectful conduct towards deputies.  The cell search was not conducted properly or professionally given the destruction of the inmate’s property and the correctional deputy’s failure to prepare a cell search log or activity report documenting the search in violation of the Department’s General Orders and provisions of the applicable MOU regarding incompetence, inefficiency, negligence, and conduct unbecoming of a custodial deputy. Further, the deputy’s failure to handcuff all inmates involved in an assault and battery violated the Department’s General Orders and MOU provisions.  Additionally, the correctional deputy failed to properly investigate the assault, including failing to Mirandize or interview the inmates involved, failed to prepare an incident report, and was dishonest regarding his investigation of the incident.

Police Officer v. City (2021) Police officer was suspended for thirty (30) days when he refused an order to appear for work during a tactical alert that stemmed from a large protest planned in response to George Floyd’s death. Specifically, the officer was suspended for insubordination, unauthorized absence, neglect of duty, and disobedience after electing to protect a family business in another city rather than reporting for work as ordered.  The Department found that the officer violated multiple policies by failing to comply with the police chief’s emailed directive and a police captain’s direct verbal order.

Deputy Sheriff v. Sheriff’s Department (2019) – Deputy Sheriff was terminated for fraternizing with and doing favors for an inmate housed in Men’s Central Jail, maintaining a pay-as-you-go or “burner” phone in order to communicate with the inmate inside security, defying orders of his supervisor, and then meeting with the inmate’s associates off-duty unbeknownst to the Sheriff’s Department.  The deputy appealed the Department’s termination decision to the Civil Service Commission.  The Commission sustained the Department’s decision to discharge the deputy.  The deputy thereafter filed a petition for a writ of mandate in superior court requesting the court compel the Commission to vacate its termination decision and order the Department to reinstate the deputy to his position as Deputy Sheriff.  The superior court denied the petition.  The deputy then appealed to the Second District Court of Appeal.  The Court of Appeal held that the superior court failed to apply the correct standard of review when deciding the writ petition and remanded the case back to the superior court.  A new superior court judge reviewed the matter and again denied the deputy’s writ petition, finding that the Commission did not abuse its discretion and that the findings supported the Department’s termination decision.

Senior Business Systems Analyst v. City (2018) – City’s Senior Business Systems Analyst was terminated for inappropriately accessing Human Resources records of other City employees, insubordination in failing to provide the passcode to his City-issued iPhone, and losing, misplacing or stealing six additional City-issued iPhones.  The employee claimed his access of HR records was approved, that he had privacy protections relating to the City-issued iPhone justifying his refusal to provide the passcode during the City’s investigation, and the employee claimed that the City misplaced the additional iPhones even though they were in his possession and control.  Following a two-day evidentiary hearing before the City’s Personnel Commission, the Commission unanimously upheld the termination.

Police Officer v. City (2018) – Police officer was suspended for making inappropriate and homophobic posts and comments on Facebook which violated the City’s anti-harassment policies and was deemed conduct unbecoming an officer which would put the Department in a negative light.  The Officer claimed that the Facebook posts were merely jokes among friends and did not intend them to be offensive to others and claimed the posts were made “privately.”  After five days of hearing, an impartial arbitrator rejected the Officer’s arguments and all affirmative defenses finding that the City had established the charges against the officer by a preponderance of the evidence.  The arbitrator upheld the discipline, which was ultimately reduced to a written reprimand in compliance with the concept of progressive discipline.

Water Distribution Crew Supervisor v. City (2017) – Water Distribution Crew Supervisor in the City’s Public Works department was suspended for five days without pay for engaging in insubordinate, defiant and dishonest conduct.  The Crew Supervisor was ordered, as were all others in his department, to enter their time a certain way on their time cards for emergency callbacks.  The time was not being properly tracked because the Crew Supervisor and others entered a minimum of two hours worked regardless of how much time they actually worked on an emergency call out.  Their time cards also did not reflect the actual time spent at the work site and accounted for travel time to and from the site, which was contrary to the MOU provisions.  The Crew Supervisor was the only one who did not comply with these time card entry instructions and continued to enter his time as he had in the past, and admittedly did so, on the advice of the union.  The Crew Supervisor claimed he was engaging in protected concerted activity because he was objecting to the way his supervisors asked him to enter his time and claimed it was in violation of the MOU.  Over three nights of hearing before a five-member Personnel Board, the Board returned with a unanimous decision (5-0) to uphold the five-day unpaid suspension.

Fire Captain v. City (2016) – Fire Captain, who served as the City’s Fire Marshall, was issued a written reprimand by the Fire Chief for exceeding the Fire Marshall budget and training budget after repeated warnings.  The Fire Captain scheduled part-time fire inspectors as full-time employees, among other things, thereby exceeding the number of allotted hours for the inspectors.  The Fire Captain claimed that the Fire Chief and others knew of the budgetary issues and allowed the Fire Captain to proceed and surpass the budget.  The Fire Captain was provided an informal evidentiary appeal hearing pursuant to the MOU and FBOR before the City’s Police Chief, as the designated hearing officer.  After five days of hearing, the Police Chief issued her decision and upheld the written reprimand, noting that the Fire Captain had been repeatedly told to monitor the budget and that it was his responsibility to not exceed the budget.  The Fire Captain later filed a petition for writ of mandate in Superior Court, but withdrew the petition.

Police Corporal v. City (2016) – Police Corporal was terminated for dishonesty.  The Police Corporal lied to two sergeants about a briefing training topic.  The Corporal requested the opportunity to conduct briefing training on the Department’s seat belt policy.  Prior to presenting, a sergeant asked what topic he was training on and he lied to him, saying “seat belt policy” and pointing to the dry erase board in the front of the briefing room which read “seat belt policy.” As the Corporal began his training, he crossed the words off the board and told the audience he would now be training on ethics and transparency within the Department.  During the first day of hearing, the City learned that the Corporal had surreptitiously recorded the briefing training without the knowledge or consent of anyone in the room.  The hearing was suspended to allow the Department to investigate newly discovered criminal and administrative violations, which resulted in a DA reject, but an additional sustained finding of dishonesty and violation of the Department’s audio recorder policies.  The Department issued a supplemental Notice of Termination, including the additional charges.  The Corporal claimed he never lied about the training topic, yet admitted recording the training session without the approval of those in attendance.  An impartial hearing officer conducted the hearing over five days and issued an advisory decision to the City Manager recommending that the termination be sustained.  The City Manager upheld the termination.

Police Corporal v. City (2016) – Police Corporal was terminated for striking his 16 year old daughter in the face multiple times and threatening her boyfriend after finding them having sex at the Corporal’s home during his shift.  The Police Corporal also ran the boyfriend’s name in the Department’s California Law Enforcement Telecommunication System (“CLETS”) for an unauthorized reason and defied a direct order from a supervisor when he attended his daughter’s softball game on a local high school campus during his shift.  The Corporal admitted most of the misconduct, but asserted that the Police Chief’s level of discipline was too harsh.  The parties submitted their closing briefs on February 3, 2017.  An impartial hearing officer conducted the hearing over four days and issued an advisory decision to the City Manager recommending that the termination be sustained.  The Corporal appealed to the City Council and the Council ultimately upheld the termination.

Police Sergeant v. City (2016) – Police Sergeant was suspended for negligently discharging his weapon during a welfare check on a parked vehicle in a residential area.  As the acting Watch Commander on duty, he utilized poor tactics in approaching the vehicle, failed to inform dispatch of his location, failed to announce himself as a police officer to the occupant of the vehicle, and displayed a serious lack of competency which damaged the reputation of the Police Department.  The Police Sergeant admitted the misconduct but asserted that the level of discipline was too harsh.  After four days of an evidentiary hearing, an impartial arbitrator sustained the forty-hour suspension.

Police Officer v. City (2015) – Police Officer was suspended for two shifts (20 hours) for unlawfully detaining and arresting a bystander who was filming near the scene of an investigation and for later requesting and obtaining the arrest report relating to that incident for personal purposes.  The encounter with the suspect/bystander was caught on videotape, and the footage was posted online, causing widespread criticism of the arrest and the Police Department in social media, news broadcasts, and emails and calls to the Department.  The Police Officer claimed the bystander was interfering with his investigation and that the arrest was, therefore, lawful, and claims he pulled the police report to protect his family.  The City’s Personnel Advisory Board rejected the Officer’s arguments and sustained the twenty-hour suspension.

Police Jailer v. City (2015) – Police Jailer was suspended without pay for eighty hours for being insubordinate by failing to report for work and was inattentive and derelict in fulfilling her duties as a jailer being absent without leave resulting in significant disruption to the Police Department’s jail operations.  The Jailer claims there was simply a miscommunication with respect to requesting time off.  The City’s Personnel Board conducted a closed evidentiary hearing, rejected the Jailer’s arguments, and decided unanimously to sustain the eighty-hour unpaid suspension.

Deputy Sheriff v. Sheriff’s Department (2013) – Deputy Sheriff was terminated based on his failure to perform his basic job duties as a Deputy Sheriff assigned to Men’s Central Jail and for falsifying Sheriff’s Department documents.  The Deputy was terminated for leaving his designated module area unattended and failing to obtain proper relief by his shift partners.  During the periods of absence, the Deputy’s module area containing inmate jail cells was left unattended and unmonitored.  The Deputy falsified logs to make it appear as if he had monitored his assigned jail cells.  The Appellant denied some of the factual allegations and claimed that the Police Chief’s punishment was too harsh. The Civil Service Commission rejected the former Deputy’s arguments and upheld the termination.

Firefighter/Paramedic v. City (2012) – City firefighter/paramedic was suspended for three shifts based on his failure to perform his basic job duties as a firefighter/paramedic, including failure to respond to a call for service, failure to report for duty, and failure to have Fire Department apparatus, equipment, and supplies in a response-ready condition. The Appellant denied most of the factual allegations and claimed that the Fire Chief’s punishment was unreasonable. The Administrative Law Judge with the Office of Administrative Hearings rejected the firefighter/paramedic’s arguments and upheld the three-shift suspension.

Deputy Sheriff v. Sheriff’s Department (2011) – Deputy Sheriff was terminated based on his failure to perform his basic job duties as a Deputy Sheriff assigned to Men’s Central Jail and for falsifying Sheriff’s Department documents.  The Deputy was assigned to Men’s Central Jail and was terminated for inappropriately accessing or hacking into the Sheriff’s Department’s computer system in order to create barcode “cheat sheets” which he and his fellow Deputies and Custody Assistants could use in lieu of conducting their required physical checks on the inmates in their cells. The Appellant admitted to the misconduct, but asserted that the Police Chief’s level of discipline was too harsh. The Civil Service Commission rejected the former Deputy’s arguments and upheld the termination.

Fire Inspector v. City (2023) – A fire inspector who received light duty and then returned to work without any restrictions sued his city employer alleging age and disability discrimination and failure to accommodate his disability.  James Oldendorph, Aleena Hashmi, and Lee Heard won a motion for summary judgment that dismissed all claims.  They convinced the judge that there was no evidence of any wrongdoing, discriminatory animus, or any adverse employment actions.

Glen Anderson v. City of Rialto, et al. (2018)  In a federal court action by a police officer against the City of Rialto Police Department and its Chief of Police for violation of his First and Fourth Amendment rights, violation of numerous Labor Code provisions, the POBR and FEHA, Mark Meyerhoff and James Oldendorph obtained summary adjudication of all but one claim, which plaintiff voluntarily dismissed two days before trial.

Juan Guillen v. City of Gardena, et al. (2016) – A bus driver employed by the City alleged six causes of action, including disability harassment, failure to accommodate and whistleblower retaliation, against the City and two managers. Plaintiff/appellant’s alleged disability arose, in part, from the post-traumatic stress disorder he alleged to have suffered after he was assaulted by a bus passenger. The City terminated plaintiff for misconduct toward bus passengers. The trial court granted complete summary judgment on all claims.  Plaintiff appealed, and the appellate court affirmed the judgment, finding that the City was not on notice of plaintiff’s diagnosis and therefore could not have harassed or discriminated against him on this basis, and that plaintiff did not suffer any adverse employment actions.

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, a Division of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Glenn William Steele v. Southern California Regional Rail Authority, d/b/a Metrolink (2011) – In a case handled by Steve Berliner and James Oldendorph of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore’s Los Angeles office, the Los Angeles County Superior Court ruled that Metrolink’s installation and operation of an audio and video monitoring system in the cabs of Metrolink locomotives did not violate the locomotive engineers’ privacy rights, due process rights, and that the actions were not preempted by state law.  The union for the engineers that operate the locomotives, and one individual engineer, had sued Metrolink seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, arguing that the engineers had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the cabs of the locomotives and that Metrolink’s monitoring system violated their procedural and substantive due process rights.  They also claimed that the installation of the cameras and the policy adopted to govern their use were preempted by state law. The Court granted Metrolink’s motion for summary judgment on all of Plaintiffs’ causes of action, finding that there were no issues of material fact warranting a trial.  This ruling resulted in a victory for Metrolink on all claims.

Public Safety Video Briefing: Fire Departments Beware – Harassment Liability for Offensive Music – August 2023
California Public Agency Labor & Employment Blog

Our short Public Safety Video Briefings will tackle cutting-edge issues and core principles relevant to public safety employers. We hope you find these videos useful and thought-provoking.


Game-changing Legislation Concerning Peace Officer Employment and Decertification
Daily Journal

Published in the Labor and Employment section of the Daily Journal, Partner James Oldendorph and attorney Ashley Sykora authored an insightful article titled “Game-changing Legislation Concerning Peace Officer Employment and Decertification.” This article evaluates the new regulations surrounding...

Public Safety Video Briefing: 2022 Year in Review – May 2022
California Public Agency Labor & Employment Blog

Our short Public Safety Video Briefings will tackle cutting-edge issues and core principles relevant to public safety employers. We hope you find these videos useful and thought-provoking.

Liebert Cassidy Whitmore Announces New Partner James Oldendorph
Liebert Cassidy Whitmore

LOS ANGELES (October 4, 2021) – Liebert Cassidy Whitmore (LCW) is pleased to announce that James Oldendorph has been named a partner of the firm effective October 1, 2021. James, a member of the LCW’s Public Safety Practice Group, is an experienced litigator who has successfully represented clients...

Reform in Law Enforcement: an L&E Perspective
The Daily Journal

This article discusses how law enforcement agencies need to approach the calls for significant police reform in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks.  Full article here.

UPDATE: March 30, 2020, Governor Newsom Issues Executive Order Extending One-Year Statute of Limitations for Administrative Investigations of Police Officers
LCW Special Bulletin

On March 30, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-40-20 which extends various statutory deadlines due to the State of Emergency in California relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Under the Executive Order, the deadline specified in Government Code section 3304(d) for opening and...

April 23, 2024
Preventing Workplace Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation
Seaside | Fire Districts Association of California (FDAC) Annual Conference
April 24, 2024
Legal Fireworks: Navigating the Blaze of Recent Legislation and Court Decisions Affecting Fire Agencies
Seaside | Fire Districts Association of California (FDAC) Annual Conference

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