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Las Vegas police union files complaint over COVID punishments

The union representing Las Vegas police officers has filed a complaint against the Metropolitan Police Department claiming the union should be consulted on new policies for disciplining officers with coronavirus symptoms.

The complaint was filed Nov. 4 by the Las Vegas Police Protective Association to the state Employee-Management Relations Board in response to an Oct. 15 video sent to all Metro employees regarding consequences if employees infect others with COVID-19.

The video, sent internally via YouTube, allegedly shows Deputy Chief Kelly McMahill explaining to employees the symptoms of coronavirus and encouraging them to use their sick time if they’re feeling symptoms. McMahill then tells officers if they come to work knowing they have symptoms, officers will receive at least a written reprimand.

“If you choose to knowingly enter the workplace while experiencing a symptom or multiple symptoms of COVID-19, and you cause fellow employees to be quarantined or to become ill, there will be a statement of complaint authored and you can expect the discipline to begin at a suspension,” McMahill continues in the video, according to the complaint.

As of Friday, 2,107 Metro employees had been tested for the virus; 531 were positive and 25 were awaiting test results, according to data posted by the department. The department did not respond to a request for comment regarding the lawsuit.

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo confirmed to the Review-Journal on Nov. 14 that about 2,500 Las Vegas police officers have been put on two-week quarantines following incidents of potential exposure to COVID-19 since March, including 306 who were isolated as of the interview.

Lombardo said officers are only asked to use unpaid leave to cover quarantine periods if they contracted the virus outside of work or if they broke quarantine protocols during the required two-week isolation; otherwise, they could use their paid sick leave.

The union is arguing that the two parties never sat down to discuss issues around coronavirus, including the new discipline.

“The Department’s policy threatening to investigate and discipline employees who come to work with a runny nose or a headache is a matter which must be negotiated with the Association,” the union said in the complaint.

LVPPA is also requesting reimbursement for employees who took sick leave or unpaid leave to comply with the new mandate and a purge of any employees’ files if they’ve been suspected of knowingly coming to work with symptoms.

It was unclear how many employees had faced consequences since the Oct. 15 announcement.

“We’re just asking the EMRB to decide that (Metro) has to sit down and negotiate,” union President Steve Grammas told the Review-Journal.

Metro has been given until Wednesday to respond to the complaint.

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.

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