Thursday, October 2, 2008

Supreme Court Eliminates Public Employee Discrimination

A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision has taken away one potential legal theory from municipal employees.  In Engquist v. Oregon Dept. of Agriculture, 128 S.Ct. 2146 (2008), the State of Oregon asked the Court to review a trial court award of $425,000 based solely on a claim that the employee had been discriminated against because she was treated differently for arbitrary reasons.

Although the trial court found the public employee's claim was enough to proceed to trial (and judgment), the Supreme Court ruled that this public employee had no special right to a "class of one" discrimination claim based solely on the fact that her employer was a governmental entity.  The Court further held that to treat employees differently does not automatically raise equal protection concerns; rather, it should be viewed as an employer exercising its "broad discretion" over the employee/employer relationship.

No comments: