Friday, July 7, 2006

Suing Congress for Employment Discrimination

Bennighthorse_1 Robert Loblaw at Decision of the Day gives the low-down on an employment discrimination claim brought against former Colorado U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (pictured left).

Not only is this an interesting case because it deals with suing a Member of Congress for employment discrimination, but also because of the legal vehicle that the employee uses in going about suing the Member for age discrimination and retaliation: the Congressional Accountability Act.

Here's how the case stands currently according to Robert:

The district court initially dismissed the suit on jurisdictional grounds, concluding that the speech and debate clause of the Constitution shielded the Nighthorse Campbell from liability. (Why does every member of Congress seem to think that this clause is the equivalent of a get out of jail free card?)

The Tenth Circuit reversed, but the Senator had left office in the meantime, creating the issue for this appeal: what happens to the case after the Congressman leaves office? Does the case proceed, with Congress itself as the defendant, or does the case become moot? The Senator’s Office moved to dismiss on the grounds of mootness, but the district court rejected this argument. The defendants sought interlocutory appeal, but the question will not be resolved any time soon as the Court concludes that it lacks jurisdiction over the appeal. Accordingly, [the employee]’s case will proceed, with Congress as the defendant.

The case is Bastien v. Nighthorse Campbell, No. 06-1047 (10th Cir., June 28, 2006).


Employment Discrimination | Permalink

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