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August 11, 2020

Court dismissed employee's petition seeking reinstatement to her former employment in the absence of her showing "irreparable harm"


A former New York State Police officer [Plaintiff] sued her former employer, the Division of State Police [DSP] and certain named DSP employees, alleging employment discrimination and retaliation, contending that "she was sexually harassed and fired based on falsified disciplinary charges when she complained about the harassment, and that the NYSP failed to properly follow its procedures for disciplinary hearings."



In 2019, four months after learning that DSP had failed to follow its procedures, Plaintiff moved, pro se,* for a preliminary injunction seeking reinstatement to her former position. The District Court denied the injunction because Plaintiff had not shown irreparable harm and her delay in filing her motion undermined any argument that she would suffer irreparable harm. Plaintiff the appealed the District Court's ruling.



The United States Circuit Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, citing Rodriguez ex rel. Rodriguez v. DeBuono, 175 F.3d 227, affirmed the lower court's ruling, explaining that to show irreparable harm, “[t]he movant must demonstrate an injury that is neither remote nor speculative, but actual and imminent and that cannot be remedied by an award of monetary damages.” Further, opined the court, irreparable harm exists “where, but for the grant of equitable relief, there is a substantial chance that upon final resolution of the action the parties cannot be returned to the positions they previously occupied.”



The Second Circuit explained that the District Court had applied the correct legal standard, noting that “... because monetary injury can be estimated and compensated, the likelihood of such injury usually does not constitute irreparable harm." However, opined the Circuit Court, the irreparable-harm requirement might be satisfied "if a monetary award would cause the movant to go bankrupt absent interim relief."**



Further, said the court, “irreparable harm is not [generally] established in employee discharge cases by financial distress or inability to find other employment, unless truly extraordinary circumstances are shown"  citing Holt v. Continental Grp., Inc., 708 F.2d 87.

* The term used to describe an individual representing himself in judical or quasi judicial proceeding.



** See Miss America Organization v. Mattel, Inc., 945 F.2d 536.



The decision is posted on the Internet at:


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