Second Circuit Holds That Teacher Stated Discrimination and Retaliation Claims

In Vega v. Hempstead Union Free Sch. Dist., No. 14-2265-CV, 2015 WL 5127519 (2d Cir. Sept. 2, 2015), the Second Circuit held that plaintiff, a state employee, stated a claim for discrimination (based on his Hispanic ethnicity) and retaliation, and thus vacated the lower court’s order granting defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c).

Resolving some uncertainty in the Circuit as to “whether an employment retaliation claim tied to a ‘deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities” under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is actionable under” 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the court squarely held “that a state employee may bring a retaliation claim under [42 U.S.C.] § 1983 against a supervisor who, acting under color of law, retaliates against him for opposing discrimination in the terms of his employment.”

In addition, the court – after clarifying the correct standard for pleading discrimination claim – concluded that plaintiff “pleaded a plausible discrimination claim under Title VII and § 1983, based on his allegation that the District assigned him classes with higher numbers of Spanish-speaking students and, in doing so, assigned him a disproportionate workload.”

The court’s decision contains other useful/helpful discussion regarding other issues as well, and is instructive in numerous respects.

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