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KNOW Summer 2014

Legal You ask, we answer. with Michael McGonigle Director of Legal Services 20 | KNOW • Volume 12 Issue 2 May local law enforcement authorities search my vehicle in the school’s parking lot without probable cause? NO. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that it is “The right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against the unreasonable searches and seizures, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” However, probable cause” may include, for example, witness statements as to illegal contraband or firearms contained in vehicles, or a police dog trained for drug sniffing, alerting on a vehicle. There are Georgia school districts that have utilized police dogs on a “search” of student and faculty vehicles. This has been held to be a lawful search. If confronted with this situation, you should immediately contact your local AE UniServ Director or Legal Services. Can a school district direct me to provide them with my personal laptop for inspection of its contents? NO. GAE Legal Services considers personal laptops to have the same type of Fourth Amendment privacy protections that are accorded to a teacher’s purse or wallet. Under most circumstances, a school district administration cannot search a teacher’s purse. Therefore, a teacher’s personal laptop should have at least the same Fourth Amendment protections. School employees should take precautions to secure their personal property and limit student access to their laptops. A teacher should maintain the privacy of his/her personal laptop at all times, certainly by password or fingerprint access only, and by not leaving the laptop on and unattended at any time. Otherwise, Fourth Amendment protections may be lost. If you encounter problems, please contact your local UniServ Director or Legal Services. I am a school bus driver. I was injured on the job when another motorist collided with my bus— the children were not on board. I contacted my supervisor immediately and reported to the worker’s compensation doctor who placed me on several days’ bed rest and physical therapy. This was all properly documented. However, the school district terminated my employment for job abandonment. Is this legal? NO. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 entitles you to medical leave to care for a serious health condition and the district may not terminate your employment during such leave. In this case, the bus driver followed school district policy and astutely maintained careful documentation of events. That said, t was only after the member contacted GAE Legal Services for assistance that he was restored to his former job. You can access the FMLA regulations at www.dol.gov. We’ve been directed to complete and return an Emergency Information Sheet. The form asks for the name of my physician and other contact information in case of an emergency, which seems okay. However, it also requests that I list all daily medications and occasional medications; and whether I have a history of or are currently being treated for any of the following: heart condition, major surgery, physical disability, asthma, seizures, diabetes, hypertension, and “other.” My principal says that we must complete the form. Is this legal? NO. The school district cannot require employees to disclose a medical condition or a disability. These broadly phrased, open-ended inquiries raise serious concerns relating to individual rights to privacy. Further, the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits an employer from requiring employees to answer such extensive and far-reaching medical questions. The ADA allows an employer to ask (not mandate) employees to self-identify if they will require assistance in an emergency because of a disability or medical condition. For additional information, you can go to www.eeoc.gov.


KNOW Summer 2014
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