Saturday, April 14, 2012
5th Circuit again determines school board members not entitled to immunity from employee retaliation claim
Juarez v. Anguilar, ____F.3d____ (5th Cir. December 22, 2011), is an interesting case. The school board members, all named defendants in a retaliation suit brought by the school district’s former chief financial officer (CFO), argue that the district court should have granted them summary judgment, as they are entitled to qualified immunity.
As it had determined in the previous decision in September 2011, the panel ruled that precedent from the Fifth Circuit as well as the Supreme Court clearly indicate that a school board’s informal actions can result in liability. This precedent was sufficient to provide the board members with fair notice that even an informal decision to retaliate against the former CFO would violate his First Amendment rights. Accordingly, found the panel, the district court did not err when it denied summary judgment on the board members; qualified immunity defense.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein