Justia Constitutional Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals
Mirabilio v. Regional School District 16
Plaintiff, a tenured culinary arts teacher, filed suit against the school board, alleging that the school board violated her due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment and Connecticut General Statute 10-151 when it failed to provide notice and a hearing before reducing her full-time position to half-time. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of her claim, concluding that plaintiff was not entitled to notice or a hearing where the reduction in hours and salary did not constitute a "termination" under Connecticut law. View "Mirabilio v. Regional School District 16" on Justia Law
American Atheists, Inc. v. Port Authority of N.Y. & N.J.
Plaintiffs filed suit challenging the display of "The Cross at Ground Zero," a column and cross-beam from one of the Twin Towers, at the National September 11 Museum as violating the Establishment and Equal Protection Clauses, as well as parallel provisions of state law. The court concluded that displaying The Cross in the Museum does not violate the Establishment Clause because the stated purpose of displaying The Cross to tell the story of how some people used faith to cope with the tragedy is genuine, and an objective observer would understand the purpose of the display to be secular; an objective observer would not view the display as endorsing religion generally, or Christianity specifically, because it is part of an exhibit entitled "Finding Meaning at Ground Zero"; the exhibit includes various nonreligious as well as religious artifacts; and there is no evidence that the static display of this genuine historic artifact excessively entangles the government with religion. Because the Museum did not deny equal protection by displaying The Cross and refusing plaintiffs' request to fund an accompanying symbol commemorating atheists, the court affirmed the district court's award of summary judgment in favor of defendants. View "American Atheists, Inc. v. Port Authority of N.Y. & N.J." on Justia Law
Kirkland v. Cablevision Systems
Plaintiff filed suit against his former employer, Cablevision, alleging claims of race discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's grant of summary judgment for Cablevision on both claims and the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's pendant state law claims. The court concluded that the district court overlooked evidence raising a genuine factual dispute as to whether Cablevision's justifications for firing plaintiff were a pretext for race discrimination and retaliation, and a rational jury could find that Cablevision discriminated against plaintiff and fired him in violation of Title VII. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for trial. View "Kirkland v. Cablevision Systems" on Justia Law
Moll v. Telesector Resources Group, Inc.
Plaintiff filed suit against Verizon, alleging that the company discriminated against her, subjected her to a sexually hostile work environment, retaliated against her, and paid her less than her male colleagues for equal work. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's grant in part of Verizon's motion to dismiss and motion for summary judgment, and denial of plaintiff's motion to compel production of documents. The court concluded that the district court erred when it refused to consider all allegations in the complaint in their totality, including those that were not sexually offensive in nature; the district court abused its discretion when it denied plaintiff's motion to compel documents related to Verizon's Reduction in Force events; and the district court erred when it refused to consider a witness's statements in an affidavit that contradicted prior deposition testimony. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Moll v. Telesector Resources Group, Inc." on Justia Law
Cox v. Onondaga Cnty. Sheriff’s Dep’t.
Plaintiffs filed suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e-3, against the Department, alleging claims of retaliation for their complaints of racial harassment to the EEOC. Plaintiffs had shaved their heads to demonstrate solidarity with one of the plaintiffs who had cancer and lost his hair as a result of chemotherapy. The Department subsequently investigated complaints that plaintiffs were "skinheads." The court held that the Department's initiation and conduct of an investigation into the white plaintiffs' claims of racial harassment alleged to have been generated by an African American officer, and a complaint against plaintiffs for filing false reports with the EEOC of such harassment, were not adverse employment actions. The court also held that threats by the Department to charge plaintiffs with making a false report to the EEOC established a prima facie case of illegal retaliation but that the Department has shown a non-retaliatory purpose, and plaintiffs have presented no evidence of pretext. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' retaliation claims. View "Cox v. Onondaga Cnty. Sheriff's Dep't." on Justia Law
Olsen v. Stark Holmes, Inc.
Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. 3604(f), and New York State Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law 296(5) and (18)(2). Plaintiffs alleged that defendants denied their application for a lease because of the disability of their son, who suffers from major depression, and that they were denied reasonable accommodation for his condition. On appeal, plaintiffs principally contend that the district court erred in dismissing their claims as a matter of law and that it should have granted judgment as a matter of law in favor of plaintiffs on their reasonable accommodation claim. The court concluded that the district court properly declined to grant judgment as a matter of law in favor of plaintiffs on the reasonable accommodation claim, but that, as to all of plaintiffs' claims, the evidence was sufficient to preclude the granting of judgment in favor of defendants as a matter of law. Accordingly, the court vacated the judgment and remanded for trial. View "Olsen v. Stark Holmes, Inc." on Justia Law
Kurtz v. Verizon New York, Inc.
Plaintiffs filed a putative class action alleging that Verizon installed multi-unit terminal boxes on their property without just compensation and violated their due process rights. The court concluded that Williamson Cnty. Reg'l Planning Comm'n v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City applied to physical takings, with the recognition that the finality requirement was satisfied by a physical taking; in regards to plaintiffs' due process claims, Williamson County applies to such claims arising from the same circumstances as a takings claim; and plaintiffs have failed to exhaust their state remedies through an inverse condemnation proceeding. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Kurtz v. Verizon New York, Inc." on Justia Law
Abrams v. Dept. of Pub. Safety
Plaintiff filed suit against DPS under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq., against DPS. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to the Title VII retaliation claim regarding plaintiff's Casino Unit transfer and the jury's verdict in favor of DPS as to the Title VII retaliation claim; vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment of the Title VII race discrimination claims where, balancing the McDonnell Douglas factors, the court concluded that it was simply too close to call and should be a question for a jury; vacated the corresponding race discrimination claim brought under the Equal Protection Clause under 42 U.S.C. 1983; and remanded for further proceedings. View "Abrams v. Dept. of Pub. Safety" on Justia Law
E.M. v. NYC Dept. of Educ.
Plaintiff, a mother with limited financial means raising a severely disabled child, withdrew her daughter from public school and enrolled her in a private learning center, alleging that the Department failed to provide her child with the free appropriate public education (FAPE) required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq. The court concluded that, in light of the contractual obligation to pay tuition, plaintiff had standing under Article III to pursue her challenge to the Individualized Education Program (IEP) and to seek direct retroactive tuition payment. The court also concluded that, in light of intervening authority, the district court erred in affirming the SRO's determination that the December 2008 IEP provided a FAPE. Because the court could not resolve the merits of plaintiff's challenge to the IEP, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "E.M. v. NYC Dept. of Educ." on Justia Law
Holland v. Goord
Plaintiff, an inmate and practicing Muslim, filed suit against prison officials alleging that they unconstitutionally burdened his religious exercise when they ordered him to provide a urine sample within a three-hour window while he fasted in observance of Ramadan. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's entry of judgment in favor of the officials. The court concluded that the choice either to provide a urine sample by drinking water during plaintiff's fast or to face disciplinary action placed a substantial burden on his religious exercise. Therefore, the court vacated the district court's judgment insofar as it concerns defendant's claim for damages under the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause and remanded for further consideration of the claim. The court affirmed the judgment in favor of the officials on plaintiff's Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. 2000cc et seq., claim, his Fourteenth Amendment claim, his First Amendment retaliation claim, and his free exercise claim for an injunction. View "Holland v. Goord" on Justia Law