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 case evaluation.