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Employee of City Research Department is fired for refusing to sign confidentiality agreement

Judges Christopher Murray, Jane Markey and Stephen Borello continued their October "clean sweep" of defeats of the little guy by upholding the dismissal of Clinton Lovett from his position as a staff attorney for the City of Detroit's Reseach and Analysis Department.  Lovett was fired in 2002, allegedly after he refused to sign a confidentiality agreement which was written so broadly that it "prohibit[ed] him from ever discussing public business with anyone."  He sued, claiming that his firing was a denial of his constitutional rights and a violation of public policy.  Murray, Markey and Borello concluded that he was an "at will" employee and therefore had no legal rights to protect. 

Even though the City Charter provides that employees other than the director of the research and analysis division "shall be appointed by the director in accordance with the Charter as it relates to civil service," the panel held that Lovett was owed no civil service protection. It pointed to a provision in the City Charter relating to Council-appointed positions which exempted them from civil service.  The appellate panel considered this language to be in conflict with the former language and to be controlling in this situation, even though Lovett was appointed by the "R and A" director and not the City Council.  The court found no merit in Lovett's claim that gagging him from discussing public affairs was a constitutional violation.

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