United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division
G. JAMES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Thomas Dupree (“Dupree”), Alaric Coleman
(“Coleman”), and Joseph Smith
(“Smith”) are police officers employed by
Defendant the City of Monroe (“the City”). They
bring this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the
City; Police Chief Quinten D. Holmes, Sr.
(“Holmes”), in his individual and official
capacities; and Mayor Jamie Mayo (“Mayo”) in his
official capacity,  contending that Defendants' sick leave
policy for police officers violates their federal
constitutional rights because it prohibits the exercise of
their right to travel, freedom of association, and right to
privacy; violates their right to be free from unreasonable
search and seizure; constitutes punishment without due
process of law; and deprives them of equal protection under
also invoked the supplemental jurisdiction of the Court over
state law claims that Defendants have violated Article VI,
§ 5 of the Louisiana Constitution because the sick leave
policy conflicts with the state general law (1) under La.
Rev. Stat. § 33:2214 by burdening the exercise of
Plaintiffs' right to 52 weeks of paid sick leave, so as
to make the leave a punishment; (2) under La. Rev. Stat.
§23:1221 by denying Plaintiffs the opportunity to obtain
restricted employment and collect supplemental earnings
benefits; (3) under La. Rev. Stat. § 23:1226 by denying
the benefit of vocational rehabilitation; (4) by failing to
allow visits to or efforts to secure an attorney for
representation; (5) by failing to provide for appearances at
mediation and hearings in workers' compensation
litigation; (6) by interfering with the jurisdiction of the
workers' compensation judge under La. Rev. Stat.
23:1310.3(E); (7) by burdening police workers'
compensation claimants with requirements not authorized or
required by the workers' compensation law and,
specifically, with La. Rev. Stat. §§ 23:1034 &
23:1034.1; and (8) by requiring workers' compensation
claimants to comply with an onerous set of requirements that
are not required of other workers' compensation
seek declaratory and injunctive relief and compensatory and
contend that there is a rational basis for the sick leave
policy, that Plaintiffs' constitutional rights have not
been violated, that Plaintiffs' demand for wages
implicates and is foreclosed by the Fair Labor Standards Act,
that the sick leave policy does not violate state law, and
that Holmes is entitled to qualified immunity.
have filed a Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 9] on all
of Plaintiffs' claims. Plaintiffs filed a Motion for
Partial Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 11] on the issue of
liability, moving the Court to find that the sick leave
policy is unconstitutional on its face and as applied.
Plaintiffs further move the Court for judgment as a matter of
law on its request for a permanent injunction. The two
motions have been fully briefed.
following reasons, Defendants' Motion for Summary
Judgment is GRANTED, and Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial
Summary Judgment is DENIED. Plaintiffs' claims are
DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Louisiana, police officers subject to civil service laws are
guaranteed 52 weeks of sick leave at full pay, regardless of
whether they developed an injury or illness while on or off
the job. See La. Rev. Stat. 33:2214(B). If the
officer is injured while on the job, his or her pay by the
City is off-set by the 2/3 pay received as workers'
compensation benefits. See La. Rev. Stat.
33:2214(B). On November 15, 2013, the Monroe Police
Department (“MPD”) adopted and made effective
General Order 22.2.1, which combined the different leave
programs that police officers previously used. The
“Sick Leave and Worker's Compensation”
section of General Order 22.2.1 provides the sick leave
policy (“the Policy”) which Plaintiffs challenge.
[Doc. No. 9, Exh. 6, General Order 22.2.1(C)]. The stated
“purpose” of the Policy “is to set forth
guidelines concerning employee conduct while on paid leave,
injured on duty leave or disability leave.”
Id. at p. 00719.[2" name="FN2"
id="FN2">2] The Policy then details guidelines over
several pages in the General Order.
Plaintiffs challenge the Policy on its face and as applied,
they do not object to all provisions of the Policy. Instead,
they challenge subsections §2(a), § 5(d)-(f) and
§ 7, which provide as follows:
2. Nothing in this directive is intended to punish any
employee, to deprive them of their constitutional rights or
freedoms, or interfere with activities or exercises
prescribed by a physician.
a. Requests for exemption from this policy may be made to the
Chief of Police through the employee's chain of command
within 14 days of the employee knowing that they [sic] will
be on extended sick leave.
5. Conduct While on Sick Leave
d. Members who notify the Department of their inability to
report to work due to illness or injury shall remain at their
residence or location where they have reported themselves to
be recovering during the sick leave period. The employee will
be permitted to engage in the following activities: . . .
(1) To obtain medical attention or treatment at their
physician's office, hospital or clinic . . . .
(2) To purchase medications prescribed by their physician.
(3) To purchase groceries for meals at their residence or
place of confinement.
(4) To attend church.
(5) To vote.
(6) To attend the funeral of any relative or close friend.
(7) To engage in any limited activity specifically prescribed
by an attending physician. (ie. [sic] Physical therapy)[.]
e. In any event, when employees intend to be away from their
residence or recovery location, they shall notify their
Division Commander or her/her designee . . . .
(1) The location they are going to;
(2) A telephone number at the location where they can be
contacted, if appropriate;
(3) The reason for their going to that location;
(4) The anticipated length of absence from their residence or
location of recovery;
(5) The members shall notify the Division Commander of their
return to their residence or recovery location.
f. A member shall not take an extended or out-of-town trip
while on paid leave without prior knowledge and permission of
the Chief of Police. Requests for out of town travel will be
in writing, addressed to the Division Commander. The Division
Commander shall notify the Chief of Police of any such
request . . . .
7. Residence Checks
a. The purpose of this regulation is to set forth the
department's policy regarding telephone contact and
residence checks of members on any sick leave . . .
b. The Department will establish telephone or personal
contact with a member who has reported him/herself ill or
injured and incapable of reporting for duty. The purpose of
the interaction is to determine if the member is receiving
adequate medical attention and to ensure general compliance
with department regulations.
c. The Department will periodically call and/or visit those
members on extended leave due to serious illness or injury to
assess their continued w[e]ll being by inquiring about their
medical status, emotional health and offering any appropriate
support and services available through departmental programs
. . . .
d. Unless specified otherwise by a Division Commander or
higher authority, the following guidelines govern residence
calls and checks concerning any sick leave up to seven (7)
consecutive days. . . .
(1) A supervisor will, sometime during the period of time the
member has reported him/herself unable to work due to illness
or injury, either contact the member via telephone at the
number provided by the member or visit the location where the
member has reported him/herself to be recovering . . .
(2) [T]he frequency of calls/visits will depend to a large
extent on the severity of the reported illness or injury,
whether the department is in possession of sufficient medical
documentation that attests to the individual's condition
and receipt of adequate medical attention, and the
member's history with respect to use of sick leave.
(3) Telephone calls or visits by a supervisor will be
documented by the supervisor . . . .
(4) Should it be suspected or determined that a member is not
in compliance with regulations governing conduct permitted
while on sick leave, etc., the supervisor making the check
shall take appropriate action as dictated by the situation
and required by the policy . . . .
e. The Division Commander will determine the extent of
residence and/or telephone checks during and [sic] extended
leave of absence that is in excess of seven (7) consecutive
days . . . .
Id. at pp. 00719, 00721. According to Defendants,
the Policy was designed to ensure that police officers do not
abuse sick leave or malinger while on sick leave, to reduce
overtime (of the police officers having to cover for those on
sick leave), and to return injured or ill officers to duty as
quickly as possible. Before and during its implementation,
the MPD made the Policy available to officers on MPD
computers, which are accessible to all police officers.
their employment with the City, Dupree, Coleman, and Smith
each took sick leave under the policy applicable to them.
began his career with MPD in 1991 as a reserve officer. He
was hired by the City as a full-time active officer in 1995
and worked in several divisions, including road patrol. On
February 4, 2013, Dupree suffered a back injury while on the
job. As a result of this injury, Dupree could not perform the
normal duties of his position, such as running, making
arrests, or other physically demanding tasks. Dupree filed a
workers' compensation claim, and he was placed on light
duty. On March 11, 2014, Chief Holmes placed Dupree on sick
leave under the Policy and applied its restrictions and
reporting requirements. Dupree remained on sick leave for one
(1) year and three months, until his retirement on June 1,
2015, because of his back injury. At the time of the filing
of the parties' motions, Dupree had an on-going
workers' compensation claim.
under these restrictions, Dupree received a write up for
having lunch at Piccadilly restaurant with his wife after a
medical appointment. Additionally, he was unable to have
dinner after church with family members, to attend his
grandchildren's extracurricular school and sports
activities and birthday parties, to visit relatives out of
state, and to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries with his
wife. While he sought a waiver once and was denied in part,
Dupree never sought any other waivers. He admittedly ignored
the restrictions on other occasions, attending his
grandchildren's graduation and filling his wife's
vehicle up with gas.
began his career with MPD as a police officer in the Road
Patrol Division in February 2009. At the time of his injury,
he was working twelve-hour shifts from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
In November 2013, while on duty, Coleman was playing an
intramural basketball game against the Monroe Fire Department
and injured his groin. Coleman filed a workers'
compensation claim and was placed on sick leave. In March
2014, Chief Holmes began applying the Policy restrictions and
reporting requirements to Coleman. Coleman remained on sick
leave until September 15, 2014. He remained under the Policy
until October or November 2014.
under the Policy restrictions, although released to light
duty, Coleman was not allowed to return to work because MPD
had no light duty positions available. He was unable to
attend birthday and anniversary celebrations, to take his
children to the movies, and to participate in family summer
activities. He was written up after Defendants learned that
he had traveled to Baton Rouge without permission to
interview for a job. Finally, Coleman was not allowed to
return to work for one to two months after his physician
released him, but remained on administrative leave with pay.
began his career with MPD as a police officer on March 16,
1992. Prior to his injury, Smith was promoted to Corporal. He
was injured on the job on January 11, 2011, but continued
working. He was promoted to Sergeant in 2012. However, in
September 2013, Chief Holmes placed Smith on light duty. On
October 23, 2013, Smith took workers' compensation leave.
At that time, Chief Holmes placed him on sick leave to run
concurrently with his workers' compensation leave. Chief
Holmes did not begin applying the Policy's restrictions
and reporting requirements to Smith until March 11, 2014.
After he exhausted his statutory sick leave at full pay,
Smith continued to receive workers' compensation pay
until October 2015 when he returned to duty as a Sergeant in
the Road Patrol Division. Smith admits that he was retained
after the time the City had the right to terminate his
employment. He remained under the Policy's restrictions
and reporting requirements until he returned to duty.
under the Policy restrictions, Smith, who is single, asserts
that he could not date. Additionally, he was denied
permission to visit the homes of his immediate family who
live in the area, to work out at a local gym, and to travel
to Tennessee to visit his mother and step-father, who was
ill. However, Smith ignored the restrictions, taking a
vacation to Mexico with a female companion.
February 17, 2015, Plaintiffs filed their Complaint in this
Court. After discovery was complete, Defendants filed their
Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 9], and Plaintiffs
filed their Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [Doc. No.
11]. The motions have been fully briefed, and the Court is
now prepared to rule.