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Justices rule against worker who lost job

  Court Watch  -   POSTED: 2008/06/09 17:04

The Supreme Court says the Constitution's equal protection clause does not enable individual public employees to sue for workplace discrimination.

In a 6-3 decision, the justices said that Anup Engquist must be a member of a class targeted for discrimination in order to bring a claim.

The case revolves around an 8-year-old Supreme Court decision. In that case in 2000, the justices ruled that a person may assert an equal protection claim as a "class of one" rather than on the usual grounds of racial discrimination against an entire group.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said that the "class of one" theory does not apply in the public employment context, where the government has greater leeway in dealings with its employees.

Born in India, Engquist worked at a laboratory operated by the Oregon Department of Agriculture. She says that after she complained about a colleague who allegedly harassed her, the man and a superior eliminated her position. A jury subsequently ruled in Engquist's favor.

Nine federal appeals courts have ruled that public employee claims similar to Engquist's can go forward.


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