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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

No Property Right in Employment for Police Officer

After a police officer was terminated for misconduct and insubordination after a hearing by the City's police committee, he filed a civil rights suit claiming that the City's termination violated his due process rights.  The lawsuit alleged that the City's police department rules and regulations gave the officer a constitutionally protected property interest in continued public employment.  Specifically, the officer argued that because the rules expressly provided that probationary officers could be terminated at-will, non-probationary officers have an inferred property interest in continued employment because the rules did not expressly provide that non-probationary employees are "at-will." 

The Seventh Circuit ruled in favor of the City, finding that nothing in the City's rules created a clear promise of continued employment, and the mere presence of a probationary period did not, by implication, create a property right for non-probationary employees. Illinois law presumes that employment relationships are at will, and a person has a property interest in a job only where he or she has a legitimate expectation of continued employment based on a legitimate claim of entitlement.  The court concluded that something "stronger than inference from silence" is required to overcome Illinois' common-law presumption of at-will employment.  Cromwell v. City of Momence (April 12, 2013). 

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink


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