State agencies are immune to many lawsuits unless the commonwealth has agreed to be sued by waiving its sovereign immunity. One way for it to waive that immunity is to accept federal funding.
Now the 3rd Circuit has ruled that county court systems can be sued for disability discrimination under the federal Rehabilitation Act because the domestic relations divisions of the county court systems received federal funding.
Recent case: Debra Haybarger worked for the Lawrence County Adult Probation and Parole Department until she was fired. Haybarger claimed she was terminated because she had been hospitalized for a month.
The court system argued it was immune. The 3rd Circuit disagreed. It said that because another department within the county court system received federal funding, every department lost sovereign immunity. (Haybarger v. Lawrence County Adult Probation and Parole, et al., No. 07-3720, 3rd Cir., 2008)
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