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Section 1983 claim must prove discriminatory agency policy

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

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)

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