The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta has just issued
an important ruling that could potentially impact future
employment discrimination lawsuits. The decision provides that Georgia school districts cannot hide
behind the Eleventh Amendment’s immunity provisions to shield them
from suits in federal court. Generally, the Eleventh Amendment shields
states from federal lawsuits (such as many employment discrimination cases)
unless the state has consented to be sued in that instance. Further, state
officers and other entities may be entitled to similar immunity if they
are operating as an “arm of the state.” Cities and counties
are not protected by the same immunity.
However, the question of whether school districts are immune from federal
lawsuits involves state law, and Georgia courts had never previously ruled
whether they may use the 11th amendment as a defense.
On November 10th the court issued its ruling, rejecting a Georgia school
district’s claim of immunity. The case involves an employment claim
against the Henry County School District, filed by a woman suffering from
sickle cell anemia. The school district had raised the 11th amendment
as a defense to her claim. Attorney Cheryl Legare of Atlanta’s Buckley
Law Firm won the appeal on behalf of the schoolteacher, noting, “I
am extremely happy with the results.”
As a result of this ruling, the 11th amendment immunity provisions will
not prohibit school district employees who suffer employment discrimination
from maintaining claims against the district.
For more information or if your or someone you love has suffered any form
of employment discrimination, please contact the experienced
Atlanta employment discrimination lawyers at the Buckley Law Firm, LLC for an immediate, confidential consultation.