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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

No private right of action against “state actors” pursuant to 42 USC 1981, the Civil Rights Law

No private right of action against “state actors” pursuant to 42 USC 1981, the Civil Rights Law
McGovern v Philadelphia, USCA Third Circuit, No. 08-1632, Decided January 28, 2009

The McGovern decision holds that employees of a municipality may not sue the City of Philadelphia pursuant to 42 USC 1981 for alleged race discrimination.

Paul McGovern, a Caucasian male, was employed by the City of Philadelphia.

On September 25, 2003, McGovern filed a complaint of race discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission pursuant to Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. A year later, McGovern received a Right to Sue Letter from the EEOC, but took no further action on his Title VII claim.

On December 21, 2004, the City terminated McGovern’s employment, citing performance and behavioral deficiencies. Almost three years later, McGovern sued the City in the United States District Court alleging race discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. §1981.

Citing Monell v New York Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, the Circuit Court commented that the Supreme Court had ruled that a municipality may not be held vicariously liable for the federal constitutional or statutory violations of its employees.

Although Monell concerned lawsuit brought pursuant to 42 USC §1983, the Third Circuit said that the Supreme Court had extended its holding in Monell to §1981 actions in its ruling in Jett v Dallas Independent School District, 491 U.S. 701.

Joining in the views expressed by “five of [its] sister circuits,” the Third Circuit concluded that “a private right of action against state actors” cannot be maintained under 42 U.S.C. §1981” insofar as an individual initiating such a lawsuit is concerned.

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