Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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The notice of termination itself constitutes an adverse employment action, even when the employer later rescinds the termination. The Second Circuit held that plaintiff's notice of termination in this case was itself an adverse employment action, despite its later revocation; likewise, the court saw no reason to construe plaintiff's Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) claim differently from her Title VII claim with respect to whether the rescission of a notice of termination given to a pregnant employee establishes as a matter of law that the notice may not constitute an adverse employment action; the facts alleged were insufficient to establish constructive discharge nor a hostile work environment; plaintiff's retaliation claim was properly dismissed; and because plaintiff did state a plausible claim of discriminatory termination, and interference with her FMLA rights, the district court should reconsider on remand its decision to decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state and city law claims. Accordingly, the court vacated in part and remanded, and affirmed in all other respects. View "Shultz v. Shearith" on Justia Law

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Defendants, the City of New York and NYPD officers, filed an interlocutory appeal challenging the district court's denial of their motion for judgment on the pleadings. At issue was whether the NYPD officers were entitled to qualified immunity from plaintiff's false arrest and imprisonment claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and whether the court should exercise pendant jurisdiction over plaintiff's state law claims against defendants. The court held that, because the officers had arguable probable cause to arrest plaintiff for obstructing governmental administration, 19 N.Y. Penal Law 195.05, and refusing to comply with a lawful order to disperse, N.Y. Penal Law 240.20(6), they were entitled to qualified immunity. Accordingly, the court reversed as to the federal and state false arrest and imprisonment claims, and dismissed the remainder of the appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction. View "Kass v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's determination that plaintiff asserted claims only under federal law, its dismissal of claims against the individual defendants, and its dismissal of plaintiff's hostile work environment claim. At issue in this appeal was whether a pro se litigant forfeits her claims under New York state and local discrimination law where she has alleged facts supporting such claims, but fails to check a blank on a form complaint indicating that she wishes to bring them. The court held that such a bright-line rule runs counter to the court's policy of liberally construing pro se submissions, and that plaintiff's complaint in this case should have been read by the district court to assert claims under New York state and local discrimination law as well as under federal law. The court addressed the balance of plaintiff's claims on appeal in a summary order issued simultaneously with this opinion, and remanded for further proceedings. View "McLeod v. The Jewish Guild for the Blind" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's judgment in favor of defendants, agreeing with plaintiff that the district court wrongly instructed the jury that "but for" causation applied to Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) claims. The court held that FMLA retaliation claims of the sort plaintiff brought here were grounded in 29 U.S.C. 2615(a)(1) and a "motivating factor" causation standard applied to those claims. The court also held that the district court exceeded the bounds of its discretion in admitting and permitting the adverse inferences to be drawn in this case. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Woods v. START Treatment & Recovery Centers" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a former principal of a Roman Catholic school, filed suit alleging that she was terminated on the basis of unlawful gender discrimination and retaliation. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants, holding that the ministerial exception barred plaintiffʹs employment‐discrimination claims because in her role as principal she was a minister within the meaning of the exception. The court explained that, although her formal title was not inherently religious, the record clearly established that she held herself out as a spiritual leader of the school, and that she performed many significant religious functions to advance its religious mission. View "Fratello v. Archdiocese of New York" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's judgment finding that defendant, a police officer, did not use excessive force in the fatal shooting of Kevin Callahan. The court held that the jury instruction regarding the legal justification for the use of deadly force by a police officer did not comply with the court's prior decision in Rasanen v. Doe, 723 F.3d 325 (2d Cir. 2013). The error was not harmless, and the court remanded for a new trial. View "Callahan v. City of Suffolk" on Justia Law

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Allco appealed the district court's dismissal of two related, but not formally consolidated, complaints that focus on Connecticut's implementation of Connecticut Public Acts 13-303 and 15-107. Allco argued that the state programs violate federal law and the dormant Commerce Clause, and that Connecticut's implementation of the programs has injured Allco. The Second Circuit affirmed and held that Allco failed to state a claim that Connecticut's renewable energy solicitations conducted pursuant Connecticut Public Acts 13-303 and 15-107 were preempted by federal law. The court also held that Allco failed to state a claim that Connecticut's Renewable Portfolio Standard program violates the dormant Commerce Clause. View "Allco Finance Ltd. v. Klee" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, convicted of attempted criminal contempt in the second degree and harassment in the second degree, petitioned for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254. Petitioner was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge, with the condition that she abide by a two-year order of protection. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the petition, holding that the order of protection did not place her "in custody" for purposes of section 2254(a). View "Vega v. Schneiderman" on Justia Law

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MGM filed suit claiming that Special Act 15‐7 of the Connecticut General Assembly placed it at a competitive disadvantage in the state's gaming industry. The Act creates a special registration pathway for the state's two federally recognized Indian tribes to apply to build commercial casinos on non‐Indian land. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint, holding that any competitive harms imposed by the Act were too speculative to support Article III standing. In this case, MGM failed to allege any specific plans to develop a casino in Connecticut. View "MGM Resorts International Global Gaming Development, LLC v. Malloy" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendant and the University, alleging a claim of retaliation based on his complaint of sexual harassment. The district court granted defendants' motion to dismiss. The Second Circuit applied the plausibility standard to plaintiff's retaliation claim and held that it was plausible that he was denied a teaching position after he declined sexual approaches from the man who was his teacher and the department chair. Accordingly, the court vacated in part and remanded for further consideration of the retaliation claims. View "Irrera v. Humpherys" on Justia Law