Barrett & Farahany’s Matthew Billips is partnering with Atlanta employment lawyer Kristine Orr Brown and noted Supreme Court employment law expert Eric Schnapper in seeking to ask the Supreme Court to reverse the 11th Circuit Appeals’ decision against their client, a longtime Rabun County teacher, who the firm argues was let go by the county school board without due process.
Dr. B.R. was a tenured Georgia teacher. Her contract of employment wasn’t renewed by the Rabun County Board of Education after a hearing that B.R. has alleged was riddled with due process violations, including that the Board members were opposing parties in an age discrimination claim and that the hearing ran so late that B.R.’s witnesses had to leave to care for their children, but the Board refused to continue the hearing until the next day. The petition also asks that the Supreme Court overrule the en banc Eleventh Circuit decision in McKinney v. Pate, at least as it applies to questions of procedural due process.
McKinney v. Pate has resulted in the Eleventh Circuit being the only Circuit in the United States in which a tenured or civil service employee doesn’t have a right to due process that can be enforced in the federal courts. Under McKinney, even an admitted failure to provide pre-deprivation procedural due process can’t be challenged if state law provides a way to challenge the deprivation after the fact, through appeal or otherwise. This holding covers cases where no actual remedy exists, as long as there is some theoretical remedy under state law. This is particularly problematic because the governmental employees who would be affected are barred from any recovery due to sovereign immunity.
The petition for certiorari asks the Supreme Court to rule whether the standard applied in eight US Circuit Courts should be adopted instead of the standard applied by the 11th Circuit in B.R.’s case and previous ones.
Practice area(s): Wrongful Termination
Court: 11th Circuit Court of Appeals