South Jersey Employment Lawyers discuss Third Circuit Dismisses Constitutional Claims against Government Employer
In a recently published decision, Goodall-Gaillard v. N.J. Department of Corrections, Docket No. 14-3348 (3d Cir. Aug. 25, 2015), the plaintiff, a corrections officer with the New Jersey Department of Corrections (“NJDOC”), filed a lawsuit relating to various constitutional claims brought under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and 42 U.S.C. §1981, and gender discrimination and retaliation claims brought under Title VII and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 et seq. The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of the NJDOC and individual employees at the NJDOC.
The Third Circuit affirmed summary judgment, holding that: (1) Congress did not intend for §1983 to abrogate Eleventh Amendment immunity and sovereign immunity barred the §1983 claims against the state and its officers acting in their official capacity; (2) plaintiff’s constitutional claims against the defendants in their individual capacities failed because her ordinary workplace grievances did not give rise to a First Amendment claim since they did not address matters of public concern; (3) plaintiff’s unlawful seizure claim failed since the Fourth Amendment did not provide a cause of action for unwanted sexual advances in the workplace; (4) plaintiff failed to state a due process claim in connection with her disciplinary infractions as the record showed she was present and was permitted to speak at the disciplinary hearings; (5) plaintiff failed to present the requisite elements for her selective enforcement claim; (6) plaintiff’s claims for gender discrimination and retaliation failed as they were not sufficiently tethered to record evidence to survive summary judgment; and (7) the District Court correctly found that there were no genuine issues of material fact and did not misapply the summary judgment standard.