A labor arbitrator has ruled that a Minneapolis police officer fired in 2008 for insubordination was unfairly punished and should get his job back.
A March 2 opinion issued in favor of officer Brendon Schram marks a significant victory for a veteran patrolman who had won numerous citations and awards before his termination.
"I just want to get back to work," Schram said Wednesday, acknowledging that arbitrator Janice K. Frankman's opinion was a relief. "Hopefully it will make some changes in the way business is being done in the Police Department."
City Attorney Susan Segal, in response to the ruling, issued a statement saying, "While we disagree with the arbitrator's ruling, we will not be appealing this case. State law prohibits us from commenting further on personnel matters."
The firing stemmed from a Dec. 19, 2007, incident when Schram went to a human resources meeting at Minneapolis City Hall to talk about his claims that persistent bullying and harassment from two superiors at his Second Precinct office had ruined his work environment. He had asked for months before that meeting to be transferred from the Second Precinct, which covers much of northeast Minneapolis.
Reluctant to tell his bosses where he was for fear that it would lead to retaliation, Schram allegedly invented a story of helping a homeless man who had been robbed. The city fired him in October 2008 for allegedly inventing that call.
Frankman, a St. Paul-based arbitrator and mediator, wrote that it may have been bad judgment for Schram to allegedly make up the story, but taken in context, it was understandable that an officer who was engaged in a months-long campaign to get away from a bad work environment would fear further aggravating his bosses. Evidence showed that Schram had good reason to be concerned, she added.
"There is unrefuted evidence that officer Schram was confronted with unprofessional and inappropriate conduct on the part of his superiors who demonstrated lack of knowledge of proper procedure, unethical and immoral conduct, disdain for him personally and a willingness to target and single him out for highly questionable discipline," she wrote.
Schram should serve an 80-hour suspension without pay, but deserves back pay and reinstatement of seniority and pension benefits, Frankman wrote.
Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747