In February of 2013, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky heard a case involving the Fourteenth Amendment and the due process and the First Amendment freedom of speech and discrimination against teachers and school board employees for giving their political opinions and whether or not the defendants subjected the public employees to reprisal for reporting information relating to employer’s violation of the law and for the intentional infliction of emotional distress. (See Banks v. Breathitt County Board of Education, 2013 WL 716315 (E.D. KY 2013)). The plaintiff in this Kentucky political discrimination and retaliation case was hired as the Director in 2004. His job duties included supervising approximately 44 employees, as well as conducting monthly examinations of the buses and ordering parts. Initially he started with a 220 day contract. In 2010 his contract was 240 days.
In a 2010 election the plaintiff claims that a person running for Superintendent demanded money from him to support his race. The plaintiff refused and as a result received threats concerning his employment. Plaintiff claimed as a result his work environment became hostile. So plaintiff went and spoke to a Kentucky political discrimination and retaliation lawyer. Finally an investigation was launched, which ended in March of 2012 with the arrest of the Superintendent by the FBI. The plaintiff was questioned by the FBI and the Superintendent knew this and instructed him to lie to the FBI.
On December 10, 2012, the plaintiff hired a Kentucky political discrimination and retaliation lawyer and filed her lawsuit alleging violation of her due process rights, wrongful abridgment of his rights under the First Amendment, discrimination and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He named the board of education as a defendant and parties in their individual and official capacity. The defendants filed motions to dismiss.
As to the plaintiff’s 1983 claims against the defendants in their official capacities, those claims were dismissed. The plaintiff was allowed to proceed with his 1983 claim against the board of education and the defendants in their individual capacities. “As a division of local government, the Board of Education may be sued directly.” (cites omitted). They may be sued in the their official capacity but “as long as the government entity received notice and an opportunity to respond, an official-capacity suit is, in all respects other than name, to be treated as a suit against the entity.” (cites omitted).
Governmental immunity was granted to the Board of Education with regard to the state law claims. Id. “A board of education is an agency of state government and is cloaked with governmental immunity; thus, it can only be sued in a judicial court for damages caused by tortious performance of a proprietary function, but not its tortious performance of a governmental function, unless the General Assembly has waived its immunity by statute.” (cites omitted).
The state of Kentucky has laws that protect public employees from reprisal for reporting information relating to the employer’s violation of the law, alleged fraud, or abuse. Id. This is what occurred in this case. And since the statute waived the governmental immunity with this regard, the plaintiff’s Kentucky political discrimination and retaliation case was allowed to continue on this ground.
Finally, the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim was allowed to continue at this stage because they could not show how the plaintiff’s claim failed to state a claim for relief. Also, the court dismissed all of the state law claims against the defendants in their official capacities because the official immunity is immunity from tort liability afforded to public officers and employees for acts performed in the exercise of their discretionary functions. Id.
If you have been the subject of a Kentucky political discrimination and retaliation case, please call and speak to a Kentucky political discrimination and retaliation lawyer at the Law Offices of Andrew Alitowski, P.A. at 888-ASK-ANDREW (275-2637) or contact us. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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