Public employees who miss the deadlines for suing under various discrimination laws sometimes get another bite at the litigation apple with a claim under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871. That law has a four-year statute of limitations for lawsuits.
But Section 1983 lawsuits also require public employees to show that their employers had a custom or policy that resulted in discrimination. That’s hard to do.
Recent case: Veronica Okon, who is black, was laid off from the Harris County Hospital, which had a clear reduction-in-force plan. Okon alleged she was singled out because she is black.
Her case was dismissed when she couldn’t show a policy or custom existed at her agency that ended up discriminating against her. (Okon v. Harris County Hospital District, No. 10-20603, 5th Cir., 2011)
- Supreme Court: Fiancé of complaining worker has retaliation protection
- OK to place employee on paid leave pending investigation
- Be prepared to explain why offenses were similar but punishments differed
- Good news for employers: Workers' comp retaliation isn't a federal case
- Make sure handbook spells out maternity leave terms