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Criminal Justice Employees’ Rights and Laws Essay

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The responsibilities of a criminal justice administrator concerning employees’ rights are quite diverse. A variety of acts defines the appropriate conditions of employment, including the Fair Labor and Standards Act, Equal Pay Act, and several anti-discrimination acts (Peak, 2011). Apart from that, the rights of criminal justice employees can “arise out of federal and state constitutions, statutes, administrative regulations, and judicial interpretations and rulings” (Peak, 2011, p. 297).

For example, the right to privacy is guaranteed by a complex of legislative documents. In particular, even though the Constitution does not include a direct reference to such a right, it contributes the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth Amendments, which include various parts of the complex notion of the right to privacy (Miller, 2016, p. 48).

An employer is expected to comply with privacy requirements, but it is notable that in certain cases, the line between private life and duty is blurred, which may change the attitude of the law to the rights of an employee. Examples of such incidents include the Pool v. VanRheen (2002) case, which is concerned with the First Amendment and the freedom of speech infringement that was deemed justifiable under the circumstances.

In Pool v. VanRheen (2002), Pool’s First Amendment rights were considered to be outweighed by the “legitimate administrative interests” of her department after she had written a very harsh letter that dwelled on its organization, management, and employees (p. 911). The incident resulted in Pool’s demotion. It is noteworthy that Pool’s letter was created after an apparent case of discrimination that was directed against her, which might have justified her right to the freedom of expression, but in this particular case, the “administrative interests” of her department were considered to be more significant, and the demotion was deemed acceptable.

It is noteworthy that this example of a judicial interpretation affecting a Constitutional right of an employee demonstrates that there is a complex relationship between the employees’ rights that are guaranteed by different sources. Apart from that, it clearly shows that the relationship between the employer responsibilities and employees’ rights may lead to controversial cases.

Drug testing at the workplace is another controversial issue, which can be regarded as anti-constitutional (against the Fourth Amendment) but which is still required for several settings in the form of pre-employment, follow-up, random, and reasonable suspicion testing (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016). Drug use is considered to be a type of conduct that characterizes an employee in a negative way, which is especially true for criminal justice workers (Haberfeld, 2016).

However, the specific laws that define the process of handling an employee (or a potential employee) with a drug use record differ from state to state. For example, in New Orleans, a recruit who used marijuana two years before the application will be disqualified, but in the Boston Police Department, any prior drug use is considered a potential obstacle for service rather than a patent one (Haberfeld, 2016, p. 296). This example shows how state legislation can affect the responsibilities of an administrator and the rights of the employees.

A criminal justice administrator is also expected to protect the employees from various types of discrimination and harassment. For example, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act demands that criminal justice organizations do not discriminate against employees who have disabilities and provide “reasonable” accommodation (Peak, 2011). This term can be regarded as a relatively vague one, which makes it another source of controversies, but suitable accommodations can include, for example, changes in schedules, improvements of the workplace environment (to make it more accessible), and the adjustment of policies if necessary.

Similarly, the protection against sexual misconduct or harassment is Constitutional in the US (Peak, 2011). Harassment occurs when an employee is exposed to unwelcome conduct, which is based on diversity indicators (for sexual harassment, it is gender) and results in a hostile environment at the workplace or various employment outcomes. In case any of the two conditions is not fulfilled, the case cannot be classified as harassment, and should be treated differently.

To prevent harassment, an administrator ensures the existence and enforcement of an organization’s rules and policies concerning the issue, manages the organization’s culture, and works towards the creation of an inclusive, diversity-friendly environment (Stojkovic, Kalinich, & Klofas, 2011, p. 254). It can be concluded that nowadays the responsibilities of a criminal justice administrator are very diverse, but the necessary information and tools for their fulfillment are provided.

References

​Haberfeld, M. (2016). The triangle of recruitment, selection, and training in 21st century policing. In M. Deflem (Ed.), The Politics of Policing: Between Force and Legitimacy (pp. 295–313). Bradford, UK: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

​Miller, R. (2016). Business law today. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

​National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Drug testing. Web.

​Peak, K. (2011). Justice administration (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall.

​Pool v. VanRheen, 297 F.3d 899 (2002).

​Stojkovic, S., Kalinich, D., & Klofas, J. (2011). Criminal justice organizations (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Criminal Justice Employees' Rights and Laws." April 6, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/criminal-justice-employees-rights-and-laws/.

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