Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Sovereign Immunity Defeats Suit
An Assistant Attorney General in Utah suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder in the wake of the unexpected death of her daughter-in-law during childbirth. She claimed that the AG's office "actively discouraged her from coming back to work by placing numerous impediments in the way of her return" after a leave of absence. She sued under the Family Medical Leave Act.
The Utah Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court to dismiss. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the family-care provisions of the act "were intended to protect women from gender-based discrimination in the workplace" but did not resolve whether self-care (at issue here) was abrogated by sovereign immunity. The court held that post-traumatic stress is gender neutral and that the state is thus immune from suit. (Mike Frisch)