logo
MENU

Preventing Whistleblower Suits

West Chester employment lawyers can advise your company about preventing whistleblower suits.The exposing of a company’s unsafe, unethical, or illegal activities by an employee is known as whistleblowing. Employees who file “whistleblower” complaints with law enforcement or a regulatory agency are protected from retaliation by their employers under both state and federal laws.

For the purposes of whistleblower suits, retaliation includes any perceived adverse employer actions, including a demotion, failure to promote, or termination of employment. Employers charged with discriminating against whistleblowers can face significant fines, and even jail time.

Monitor the Company’s Practices

The best prevention against a whistleblower suit is to carefully monitor the business practices of the company, to ensure that no illegal or unsafe conduct is occurring.

The most popular whistleblower suits involve alleged violations of safety or health codes, mismanagement of company finances, violations of government contracting laws, improper Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement policies, improper payment of customs duties, and shareholder fraud.

Ensuring proper business conduct by all branches and employees of the company is the easiest way to avoid whistleblower suits. Meticulous record keeping, compliance policies, and proper training programs should go hand in hand with constant monitoring of a company’s business practices.

Understand Protections Afforded to Whistleblowers

Some federal whistleblower protections are set forth in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which strongly protects financial industry workers who “blow the whistle” on their employer’s allegedly engaged in securities, shareholder, or bank fraud.

Companies should be familiar with state whistleblower protection laws and other federal laws, such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, or the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which provide additional whistleblower protections. Employees need only to act in “good faith” in filing their complaint to be protected under these state and federal laws.

Be Responsive to Employee Complaints

Employers can often avoid a whistleblower suit by being responsive to employee concerns and complaints. Most employees will confront their employer directly about a potentially unsafe or illegal situation, prior to filing a complaint with law enforcement or a regulatory agency.

Companies should have well communicated policies in place for the proper handling of employee complaints. All credible complaints should be investigated, and corrective actions taken if needed.

Avoid Retaliatory Behavior

Companies should avoid the appearance of any type of retaliatory behavior if a whistleblower contacts the police or another agency about alleged impropriety.

Some company actions that can be perceived as retaliatory include:

  • Demotions
  • Failure to promote
  • Refusing to give employee earned or cost-of-living raises
  • Assigning undesirable or unfavorable shifts or locations
  • Ignoring an employee’s concerns
  • Reprimanding employee, including “writing them up”
  • Excluding an employee from usual business activities, such as meetings
  • Lessening an employee’s responsibilities
  • Termination of employment

Consult with Experienced Legal Professionals

If a company has a concern about a potential whistleblower situation, the best course of action is to consult with an experienced legal professional who can assist the company in carefully handling the whistleblower complaint. This is especially important in those situations where a whistleblower has violated a company’s policies; or engaged in some misconduct unrelated to the whistleblowing, which would require disciplinary actions; or if the whistleblower becomes the subject of an independent investigation.

If a whistleblowing claim has been made against your company, the experienced employment lawyers at the MacMain Law Group LLC can help you prepare the best defense. To schedule your free initial consultation today, call us at 484-318-7106 or contact us online. We serve clients throughout Pennsylvania from our conveniently located offices in West Chester.

Avoiding Liability During Holiday Parties

West Chester employment law lawyers advise employers how to avoid liability during holiday parties.This time of the year is often filled with office parties and corporate holiday events as many companies celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with employees and clients. The fun of holiday festivities, especially with the consumption of alcohol, also brings an increased risk of sexual harassment and alcohol-related accidents. For some companies, this could mean additional liability exposure if inappropriate or reckless behavior leads to injury. By following some of the helpful suggestions below, companies can limit their liability should a holiday event go wrong.

Understanding Liquor Liability Laws

Serving alcohol at a corporate holiday party places a company at an increased risk for liability. Companies may be held civilly or criminally liable for injuries resulting from an individual’s intoxication if the company provided the alcohol. Liquor liability laws vary state to state but hold businesses liable for serving alcohol to intoxicated or underage persons. Many businesses provide transportation home from holiday parties or arrange for hotel stays to avoid the possibility of an alcohol-related driving accident.

Limit Alcohol Consumption

If alcohol is to be served at a company party, businesses can encourage employees to drink responsibly by using drink voucher systems limiting the number of drinks everyone may be served or shortening the time that alcohol drinks will be offered. Offering food and non-alcoholic drink alternatives may also help limit alcohol consumption at a holiday party. Cash bars can decrease the amount of alcohol consumed as employees drink less when they must purchase their own drinks. Hiring a professional bartender to handle the serving of drinks can also help a company monitor the alcohol consumption of the party attendees.

Communicate Sexual Harassment Policies

Companies should review their sexual harassment policies with all employees prior to holiday party season. All sexual harassment policies should include guidance with respect to employer sponsored social events. Employees should be made aware these policies apply not only at work but at company functions occurring off the work premises. Some companies chose to make holiday parties more family-friendly with the inclusion of spouses and children to discourage inappropriate and harassing behavior. Businesses can proactively ban certain customs that could potentially lead to allegations of a hostile work environment, such as hanging mistletoe in the office and the exchange of adult-themed risque gifts.

Follow Wage and Hour Laws

State wage and hour laws will determine whether a company needs to pay its employees for attendance at a holiday party. Mandatory attendance at a holiday party would require a company to pay for the employee’s time. If attendance at the party is not mandatory but strongly encouraged, courts may find the company implicitly required the employee’s attendance. By making attendance entirely voluntary, companies may be able to avoid paying additional compensation to its employees.

Obtain Proper Liability Insurance

Despite a company’s best efforts to reduce all injury or harassment risks, incidents inevitably will occur during holiday parties. As a precaution, all businesses should have the proper liability insurance to provide financial protection, including commercial general liability and employment practices’ liability policies. Some businesses may need to purchase special event coverage depending on the nature of the holiday celebration.

With offices conveniently located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, our team at The MacMain Law Group LLC proudly represents businesses throughout Philadelphia and Chester County. Call us today for more information about protecting your business from liability at 484-318-7106 or contact us online.

Questions Arise Over DOL’s Shared Employer Liability Rule

Philadelphia employment law attorneys provide counsel on the shared employer liability rule.Shared employer liability continues to be a controversial labor topic, as it affects a wide range of businesses and employees, particularly those who work in staffing and franchise organizations. The Department of Labor (DOL) will be issuing a new policy by the end of the year that would dictate when businesses would be legally responsible for payroll violations, including those pertaining to minimum wage and overtime. While some believe that the DOL does not have the power to make legally binding legislative rules, others believe it is within their power.

According to a senior counsel for the National Employment Law Project, based on the language of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the DOL does not have the authority to make the rule legally binding. They can only publish an interpretive rule, which does not carry the same weight as a legally binding rule. An administrator for the DOL Wage and Hour Division commented that the DOL can issue regulations on joint employment issues in order to clarify parts of the FLSA that may not be clear.

Many large corporations, including McDonald’s Corp. and Microsoft, have had claims filed against them saying that they are responsible for labor violations against franchisee and staffing organization employees. Businesses and legislators have been putting pressure on Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta to move forward on the policy. However, the impact of the new policy may be limited in court if the DOL is unable to proceed with creating a rule. Acosta has been quoted saying that agencies should not use interpretive guidance documents to take short cuts and avoid going through the formal rulemaking process.

Defining Joint Employment

While the FLSA allows the DOL to draft regulations for certain issues, including overtime exemptions and child labor issues, it does not give them the power to define joint employment. Therefore, unless the language in the FLSA changes, any ruling put out by the DOL will not be legally binding.

In a court of law, legislative regulations carry more weight in the courtroom than interpretive regulations. According to the former administrator for the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division, a legislative regulation may be challenged over minimum wage and overtime disputes, which is when the court may be asked to apply the regulation. The test of a rule will depend on the how the court interprets the rule and the level of deference it gives. Regardless of how the courts view the DOL’s joint employment regulation, it will have an impact on the agency’s ability to enforce minimum wage and overtimes requirements. It will provide much-needed clarity both for internal Wage and Hour enforcement officers and the business community.

Philadelphia Employment Law Attorneys at The MacMain Law Group LLC Provide Counsel on FLSA Issues

To discuss your employment law matter with an experienced employment attorney at The MacMain Law Group LLC, call us today at 484-318-7106 or contact us online. Our offices are conveniently located in West Chester, where we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania.

The Importance of Company Sexual Harassment Policies

Employment law lawyers offer excellent counsel for companies regarding harassment policies.Over the last year, sexual harassment and the common circumstances surrounding it have been, for lack of a better word, eye-opening. Though the idea of sexual harassment is nothing new, the prevalence of the issue in the age of the #MeToo movement has been nothing short of impactful.

Now, companies are focusing more on how to best combat the problem. With out-of-date policies, companies are learning more and more that they must somehow forge a path for a new standard.

The Role of Human Resources

Part of the bigger problem surrounding policy in the workplace begins with the emphasis placed, or not placed, on the important role of human resources. Though many companies have tended to view the department as a necessary afterthought, its focus has long been on administering benefits and meeting legal requirements; not dealing with issues of sexual harassment.

A law professor who specializes in employment discrimination at City University of New York, explains that not only is it a legal and moral issue, but a financial mistake as well. Those who are talking about and dealing with sexual harassment are not focused on and performing optimally. That is why it is important to properly invest in human resources and find ways to empower the department.

In addition, there are other initiatives that can be implemented into the corporate culture to make harassment less likely to occur.

Create Channels for Reporting Outside Human Resources

Frequently, middle managers are the ones who fall responsible for dealing with allegations of sexual harassment. The issue with this is that while they do carry some weight, they do not have enough power to truly eliminate the issues.

Though they are aware that they can report allegations to HR, if an employee is reluctant to file an official claim with the department, the middle manager’s hands are often tied. That is why allegations often stop with these managers.

It is advisable for companies to put in writing their expectations surrounding reporting. If a manager is aware of an issue, but fails to report it, since the manager is considered to be a representative of the company, the company may still be found liable.

By designated select individuals to become well-versed in the issues surrounding sexual harassment and company policy, these individuals can be easily accessed if an allegation occurs.

Finally, sometimes individuals do not want to file a formal complaint; rather, they are just looking to express their disdain for how a situation occurred. This is why having an employee outside of HR allows other employees to assess whether they wish to file.

Put Non-Retaliation Policies in Writing

A major deterrent for coming forward to report sexual harassment is workplace retaliation. Though the law prohibits such conduct, it is all too common. Often, after a report is filed, the employee is victimized all over again, suffering professionally as a consequence.

The best option is to adopt a written non-retaliation policy, which spells out what retaliation is, and what the consequences of such retaliation would be.

Invest in Proper Training – Especially for Bystanders

Though sexual harassment training is a good idea, it is often only conducted to check off legal boxes. It frequently paints it out to be a black-and-white issue, though that is certainly not the case.

Bystander intervention training teaches employees what to do should they witness inappropriate behavior. It teaches them things such as conflict management techniques, including de-escalation and redirection techniques

Treat Each Case Separately

It is important for companies to understand and to make known that not all behaviors, regardless of being inappropriate, are considered on the level of sexual harassment. The real focus needs to be on the workplace climate and overall company culture.

If you have been involved with a case surrounding the sexual harassment of a company employee, it is extremely important to take the proper steps to handle the situation correctly. Contact us online for a consultation with our employment law lawyers or call The MacMain Law Group LLC at 484-318-7106.

Starting a Charter School

West Chester education lawyers provide expert guidance for those involved with starting a charter school.Cuts in federal, state, and local funding for public schools across the country have placed limits on the quality of education districts can offer. Transportation problems, aging facilities, redistricting, and intense pressure to compete with private schools have forced public school systems to re-evaluate their mission and educational philosophies. Reduced wages, benefits, and retirement plans for educators have resulted in an increasing shortage of qualified teachers and administrators.

Disillusioned parents and frustrated educational administrators are taking matters into their own hands by opening charter schools that provide a vehicle for specialized educational programs and redefined goals. Over 6,000 charter schools have opened across the country over the past 15 years, and the trend is showing no signs of slowing down.

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) claims there are over one million children on waiting lists in the United States, hoping for the opportunity to be accepted into these schools. Forty-two states and the District of Columbia have already created charter school legislation, but the standards vary greatly from state to state.

Getting a Charter School Started

All charter schools first start with an idea and a vision. Getting those ideas and visions established into a formalized charter school takes work, perseverance, and commitment from a team of dedicated professionals that share the same ideals.

Here are the basic steps necessary to open a charter school in the United States.

The Petition: In the initial stage of creating a charter school, a petition must be submitted to the local or county Board of Education. The petition must specifically outline the school’s vision, mission, curriculum design, hiring practices, discipline approach, school structure, and communication plan.

This step typically involves intense research, collaboration, and lots of revision before submission.

Board of Education and Community Approval: Once the Board of Education has accepted the petition, it is time for a public hearing. The Board will question what is written in the petition, may request evidence to support the petition, and can require revisions before finalizing their decision.

A public hearing for the community follows and gives parents, businesses, and residents the chance to voice concerns and support for the charter school. Those submitting an application for a charter school must be prepared to answer a myriad of questions from educators, as well as the community.

Implementing the Plan: Once the Board has approved the charter school, the hard work begins. Securing grants will provide the funds necessary to begin finding a location for the school, buying materials to support the curriculum, hiring teachers, and recruiting students. This process can take months to several years to complete.

With minimal funding, marketing becomes a challenge, but utilizing local news stations, newspapers, and social media forums can help get the word out about your school.

Accountability: Once a charter school has been established, proof of learning, as well as plans for continued success, must be provided to the local Board of Education. As charter renewal requirements vary from state to state, charter school boards and administrators must ensure that they are in compliance with their state’s laws.

The West Chester education lawyers at The MacMain Law Group LLC provide legal counsel for all your educational law issues. Call us at 484-318-7106 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our West Chester offices serve clients throughout Philadelphia, Chester County, and Pennsylvania.

The United States Supreme Court Rules that the ADEA applies to all Governmental Entities regardless of Size

Philadelphia age discrimination lawyers explain the ADEA ruling by the supreme court.In resolving a split among the circuits, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is applicable to state and local government entities, regardless of how many employees they have. The Court held that all government entities are considered employers under the ADEA, not just those that employ 20 or more employees. If you are a small local government entity, you will need to take this into consideration when making employment decisions that affect those over the age of 40.

Case Background

In Mount Lemmon Fire District v. Guido, Justice Ginsburg opined that the ADEA establishes “separate categories: persons engaged in an industry affecting commerce with 20 or more employees; and states or political subdivisions with no attendant numerosity limitation.” The employer, Mount Lemmon Fire District, is an 11-employee political subdivision of the state of Arizona. The group laid off two firefighter captains who were over the age of 40 and the oldest full-time employees. The pair then sued the Fire District under the ADEA, which protects employees and applicants from discrimination on the basis of age. The ADEA applied to private employers with 20 or more employees, and applies to states and political subdivisions, but the language that relates to state employees does not mention the 20-employee mandate.

Ginsburg noted that originally, public employers were excluded from coverage by both the ADEA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a broader anti-discrimination law, which bars employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. In 1972, Congress extended Title VII to public employees, providing the same threshold that applies to private employers under the law to cover only those that employ a certain number of people.

In its argument, the Fire District held that it was not subject to the ADEA because it did not employ 20 or more employees. The matter went to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after the district court agreed. The Ninth Circuit reversed the ruling, stating that the meaning of the statute is unambiguous, and that it applies to all state employers, no matter how many employees they have. Other federal courts of appeals have interpreted the language differently, resulting in the Supreme Court agreeing to review the Fire District’s appeal.

Potential Impact of the Ruling

This increases the risk of liability faced by government agencies as it may inspire a greater number of age discrimination cases to be filed. However, in politically divisive times, there may be many developments that will yield far more polarizing results.

The MacMain Law Group LLC has a broad range of experience successfully resolving complex situations like the above ADEA ruling, and we can help to advocate for and protect your rights. For help and guidance toward making the best decisions, please call 484-318-7106 or contact us online today for an evaluation of your case. Our office is conveniently located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and we serve clients throughout the Commonwealth.

How to Properly Break Up with Your Business Partner

Pennsylvania employment attorneys offer advice on the proper way to end your business partnership.The numbers speak for themselves; the odds are not in a partnership’s favor. The partnership breakup rate can even be 20-30 percent higher than that of divorce rates.

As important as it is to create a partnership agreement, dedicating time to creating a dissolution strategy can be a lifesaver. This strategy will come in handy in the event of death, a life-changing injury, or personal differences.

It is important to know what you are to do, should that situation ever arise, instead of trying to make decisions in the heat of the moment when emotions are running high.

There are certain warning signs to look for that may indicate that your business partnership may be on the brink of failure:

Partners Have Vastly Different Working Styles

When partners have different working styles, the unity they once felt to accomplish a common goal can easily diminish. When it comes to things such as whether to maintain strict schedules or work when the mood strikes, it is important to be on the same page as your partner.

If partners have very different working styles it can make tough situations even tougher.

One of the Partners is Not Carrying Their Weight

As with any relationship, when responsibilities are not evenly distributed, it can create stress, and in many cases resentment. If one partner is taking on the brunt of operational management while the other is simply enjoying the perks of the business, this can cause a strain in the relationship.

Also, as in any relationship, communication is imperative to maintain a healthy balance. The most important thing is for a partner to speak up and work out issues.

When a partner feels as though they are unable to express themselves, the damage may be irreparable. As such, it is imperative to keep the lines of communication open.

Partners Greatly Disagree on Pertinent Issues

It would be difficult for any relationship to work if all parties involved do not take the steps to effectively collaborate; compromise is key. When partners find that compromise has become very difficult to obtain, simple disagreements can lead to major operational issues.

Disagreements involving finances, customer service, and personnel can cause the partnership to further fracture.

If you recognize that a partnership is beginning to fail, it is extremely important to ensure that you end the relationship in a manner that will not prove detrimental to any parties or to the business, should it remain open.

If you and/or your partner reach the point of no return, these tips can help you to keep your split as professional as possible:

Communicate When You Feel Calm

It is perfectly human to feel hurt, betrayed, or angry in the midst of a business breakup. While you have every right to feel as you feel, it is important to avoid communicating with anyone related to the business until the pure emotional reaction has blown over and you are capable of separating emotions from business decisions.

Determine Priorities

Evaluate the outcome that will make you happiest five or ten years from now. Keeping tax liabilities, personal finances, and professional goals in mind, it is important to consider how you may be impacted by a buyout or other solution. This must be done prior to considering any terms not already in your dissolution plan.

Accept Help

Certain situations in life are cause for seeking professional help. The dissolution of a partnership may just be one of them. The complexities associated with creating a partnership are as apparent when dissolving one.

By securing the right help, you will receive advice on things such as what to look for and when to finalize decisions.

It is necessary to protect your interests prior to acting on any exit strategy. This may require a revisit of the partnership agreement, as understanding is key. For help in making the right decisions for you, call the Pennsylvania employment attorneys at MacMain Law Group LLC at 484-318-7106 or contact us online today. With our office in West Chester, Pennsylvania, our attorneys serve clients throughout Chester County and Philadelphia.

Qualified Immunity

West Chester civil rights defense lawyers know how to defend you under qualified immunity.Qualified immunity is a type of immunity used to shield government officials from liability for actions taken in the line of duty, so long as the actions did not violate rights clearly defined by established law. It is a defense available to public officials, both state and federal, including law enforcement officers. Qualified immunity was created by the Supreme Court to focus trials on the objective reasonableness of the contested action of public officials, rather than the subjective intent of that official at the time of the action.

One of the goals of qualified immunity is to protect government officials, including law enforcement agents, from frivolous lawsuits stemming from necessary actions performed as part of their work. It allows these officials to execute their duties without the fear of being sued by individuals who may suffer harm as a result.

The key to the qualified immunity defense is whether the contested action was reasonable. In other words, the court must decide if a reasonable person would have known that their actions violated a clearly established law. Because qualified immunity removes the burden of determining the subjective state of the government official, the prosecution no longer must prove malice on the part of the defendant.

The Supreme Court’s Support of Qualified Immunity

Since the establishment of qualified immunity as a defense, the Supreme Court has been supportive of its use by police officers to defend actions taken in dangerous and intense situations. The court has also recognized the right of public officials to immediate appeal when a trial court judge issues a denial of their qualified immunity defense. An immediate appeal spares the defendant from the burden and expense of protracted discovery and trial.

There are numerous examples of rulings by the court that favor law enforcement. In the 1986 decision Malley v. Briggs, the court wrote that qualified immunity protects “all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law”.

A year later, in Anderson v. Creighton, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a federal law enforcement officer who thought he had probable cause to conduct a search without a warrant, but was mistaken, and used qualified immunity as his defense when he was sued for damages under the Fourth Amendment. Here, the court said that it had already recognized that it is inevitable that law enforcement officers will reasonably and mistakenly conclude that probable cause is present when making searches, and that officers should not be held personally liable for them.

The court has also affirmed use of the qualified immunity in multiple cases concerning the use of deadly force by police officers; thus making it clear that defendants whose attorneys have the knowledge and experience to make use of the qualified immunity defense, where applicable, will have a distinct advantage.

For information on how our governmental entity representation and civil rights defense practice can help you, call The MacMain Law Group LLC at 484-318-7106 or contact us online. With our office in West Chester, Pennsylvania, our attorneys serve clients throughout Chester County and Philadelphia.

The Future of Non-Compete Agreements

Pennsylvania employment lawyers discuss the proposed bill dealing with non-compete agreements. Shortly before the close of 2017, the Pennsylvania legislature introduced a bill that would ban non-compete agreements in employment contracts. Under Bill 1938, known as the “Freedom to Work Act,” non-compete agreements would be not only unenforceable, but null and void.

The bill has several stated goals, including lowering the unemployment rate, enabling an increase in income for highly-skilled employees, allowing employees to make a living wage and provide for their families by “maximizing their talents,” and allowing businesses to hire workers of their choice. With this bill the Commonwealth hopes to attract high-tech companies and discourage workers from leaving the state for better opportunities.

Additionally, the bill intends to promote the following:

  • Increased wages and benefits
  • Unrestricted trade and mobility of workers
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship

Pennsylvania joins a trend of proposed legislation to limit non-compete agreements that includes New Jersey, Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, Missouri, and New Hampshire among others. In California, North Dakota, and Oklahoma, legislation has already passed that bans almost all forms of non-compete agreements.

Definition of Non-Compete

The Freedom to Work Act defines a non-compete agreement broadly as “[a]n agreement between an employer and employee that is designed to impede the ability of the employee to seek employment with another employer.” As there is no mention of non-solicitation agreements, it seems it would still be possible for an employer to enter into such an agreement with employees.

Exceptions are made for agreements deemed reasonable that concern the sale of a business, and those that involve the dissolution of a partnership or limited liability company. Any non-compete agreements that existed before the effective date of the new law would also be exempt.

Provision for Attorney’s Fees

Included in the proposed legislation is a provision that cases concerning Pennsylvania residents shall be decided in Pennsylvania state court, under Pennsylvania law. There is also a provision that awards attorney’s fees and damages, including punitive damages, to employees who sue their employer over a non-compete agreement and win. This essentially provides employees with incentive to sue, should the bill be enacted, and they find themselves subject to a non-compete clause.

Changes at the Federal Level

There is also proposed legislation at the federal level that seeks to reform the misuse of non-compete agreements. Employers must watch carefully for any changes in state and federal legislation, and are advised to be prepared to use other ways to protect proprietary information. Non-compete agreement forms should be reviewed regularly, to ensure they comply with the law in all jurisdictions where they are in use.

The MacMain Law Group LLC is well versed in the complexities of Pennsylvania employment law and can provide you with highly skilled representation. Call 484-318-7106 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. From our office in West Chester, our experienced attorneys serve clients throughout Chester County and Philadelphia.

The Pros and Cons of Recording Police Activity

West Chester civil rights lawyers offer the pros and cons of recording police activity.With the political climate more charged than ever, and an extreme divide between those who support or oppose police officers and question their conduct, one of the things that has been suggested to help improve this dissonance is to equip all police officers with body cameras.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to this technology.

Advantages of Police Body Cameras

The following are examples of the advantages to police forces and citizens provided by the use of body cameras:

A Clearer Picture of What Has Occurred

Body cameras help to create a clearer picture of what transpired. It is much easier to demonstrate what occurred when there is footage of it – even if it is not perfect.

Whereas police reports require the imagination of the jury, video footage can be less subjective.

Improved Behavior

From a young age, we tend to behave better when we know that we are being watched. The use of a body camera not only influences citizens who know that they are being watched to behave well, but also influences the officers wearing them, as they know that their conduct will also be captured.

These videos additionally allow for officers to analyze their interactions and use that information to improve where necessary.

They Do Not Get in the Way

Weighing less than a quarter of a pound, wearing body cameras is not too intrusive for police officers that are used to already wearing a lot of bulky equipment. The smallest of these cameras is about the size of a lipstick and can be placed in a variety of locations on the officer.

They Help to Reduce Complaints

Many departments who have already implemented body cameras are reporting positive results from them. There seems to be a reduction in complaints and a decrease in force.

With less disputes, this saves the department a lot of time and resources necessary to resolve any civil litigation.

Disadvantages of Police Body Cameras

The following are examples of the disadvantages to police forces and citizens provided by using body cameras:

Upfront Costs of the Cameras

With $399 – $599 price points per unit, a lot of law enforcement agencies are unable to afford these body camera systems. This is especially true for those departments that are already under tight budgets.

Concerns with Privacy

These body cameras raise the issue of our expectation of privacy, especially when dealing with some extremely sensitive situations. To keep such issues clear, police departments will need to work with advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to develop policies that ensure the public’s rights that are protected under the Fourth Amendment.

A Method for Storing Evidence

The chain of custody for evidence has always been important, to ensure that nothing has been changed or tampered with in any way. Adding video may require another investment into how to properly store these recordings. It may be difficult to prove the chain of custody in court.

Difficulty with Adjusting to New Changes

Change is never easy, but for those who have been on the job for many years, it may become very difficult for officers to change how they conduct their performance. It is likely that the implementation of such body cameras will be met with a certain level of resistance.

Body cameras are not the only recording technology being employed to add accountability. In addition to cameras in the police cars themselves, new audio and video technology attached to police weapons is being developed and deployed, to explore situations involving the use of deadly force.

If you represent a police officer who has been involved in any type of dispute, it is important to fight for the justice that they deserve. At The MacMain Law Group we have experience in representing, counseling, and defending public officials and law enforcement in the Philadelphia, West Chester, and Chester County areas, and can help you as well. For more information, contact a civil rights defense attorney at The MacMain Law Group, LLC by calling 484-318-7106 or submit an online inquiry.