A group of firefighters and police officers in Scranton, Pennsylvania, have filed suit to reverse a layoff decision that they claim violates a local ordinance. Mayor Chris Doherty ordered the layoffs on July 29, 2011 seeking to save roughly $212,000 this year and $700,000 next year.
The suit filed in Lackawanna County Court alleges the mayor “has an undeniable, clear and ministerial duty to maintain minimum staffing levels of 137 and 150 in the fire department and police department” and seeks a writ of mandamus to compel him to rescind the layoffs. Local ordinances specify the minimum levels of firefighters and police officers and the city council has refused to reduce those numbers despite being asked to do so by the mayor. In fact, last December the council overrode the mayor’s veto of the minimum staffing requirement.
According to the data in my Fire Litigation Database, this is at least the 24th suit in the past 2 years where firefighters and/or unions in the US have sought to block a layoff via a lawsuit.