The U.S. Supreme Court has favorably cited the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) amicus brief in support of an important ruling that protects employers from lawsuits because of unwarranted claims of retaliation.
The June 24 ruling in University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar overrules a judgment by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that created a higher standard for employers defending unsupported claims of retaliation.
Writing for the Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy cited NSBA’s amicus brief for the proposition that it would be against the intent of federal anti-discrimination laws to place economic and reputational costs on employers who did not discriminate.
The decision is particularly relevant for school districts because they often assign or transfer employees to improve teaching and learning and comply with federal and state mandates, and those actions can elicit lawsuits based on a perception of retaliation, NSBA noted in its brief.
“We are gratified that the Supreme Court views NSBA’s amicus briefs as a credible and important asset in its decision-making, particularly when those decisions bear greatly on the ability schools to carry out their educational mission,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel.
In its amicus brief, NSBA argued that a ruling to change the legal standard would have a severe impact on school district across the country and their more than 6 million employees, encouraging more lawsuits and stifling school leaders’ abilities to make decisions related to employee assignments.
“The Supreme Court has struck the right balance,” said NSBA General Counsel Francisco M. Negrón, Jr. “Anti-discrimination laws should not become a shield used by substandard employees seeking to invalidate legitimate employer action for poor performance.”
For more details about the case, see the article in NSBA’s Legal Clips.