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Friday, August 10, 2012

A “Class of One” is not available to an individual in litigation involving a public employer


A “Class of One” is not available to an individual in litigation involving a public employer
Appel v Spiridon et al, 531 F.3d 138*

A faculty member employed by Western Connecticut State University [WCSU] was told that she would be required to submit to a medical examination involuntarily as a condition of her being continued in her employment with the University.

She sued, bringing a “class action of one,” contending that this requirement violated her constitutional rights under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment and under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. A federal district court judge granted her petition based on her “class of one” claim of a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Second Circuit vacated the injunction issued by the district court and remanded the matter to the district court for further proceedings, citing Engquist v. Oregon Department of Agriculture, 128 S. Ct. 2146. 

In Engquist, the Circuit Court explained, the Supreme Court held that such a theory did not apply, as here, in the public employment context. 

According to the decision, “It appears …that [the faculty member] is the only WCSU faculty member ordered to undergo an involuntary psychological examination in order to continue teaching and receiving pay and benefits at WCSU.”

The Circuit Court commented that the only basis for the lower court’s granting a preliminary injunction in favor of [the faculty member], and while it, itself, heretofore recognized such “class of one” liability in the public employment context, the Supreme Court’s holding that the Equal Protection Clause does not apply to a public employee asserting a violation of the Clause under a “class of one” theory in Engquist, it must “overrule any precedent of this Circuit to the extent that it conflicts with the holding in that decision.”

The case was remanded to the district court for further action.*

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

* See Appel v. Spiridon, 463 F. Supp. 2d 255, posted on the Internet at: http://ct.findacase.com/research/wfrmDocViewer.aspx/xq/fac.20110818_0000471.DCT.htm/qx

Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

A Reasonable Penalty Under The Circumstances at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

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