Sixteen-year Fire Department veteran's suit dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies
Keith Brooks had worked for the Detroit Fire Department for 16 years. In 2007, he was charged with several felonies unrelated to his employment, and suspended without pay. He ran out of money to pay bills and his attorney, so he took steps to seek early retirement in order to access his pension fund. In the interim, he was acquitted on the criminal charges. When he sought reinstatement as a fireman, he was told that he would be treated as a "new hire" without seniority or back pay for the suspension period. Meanwhile, he was not allowed access to his pension because he had been "reinstated" and had not completed the retirement process. With his cash long exhausted, Brooks grew impatient with the grievance process and filed a lawsuit challenging the actions of the City and the Fire Department Retirement System. The Court held that he was not entitled to injunctive relief because he had not completed the grievance process. It also held that his impending criminal contempt charges for failing to pay overdue child support did not constitute "irreparable harm" entitling him to injunctive relief.