Naumovski v. Norris, No. 18-1556 (2d Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Defendants, athletics officials at Binghampton, appealed the district court's denial in part of their motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. The Second Circuit held that the district court erroneously conflated the distinct Title VII and 42 U.S.C. 1983 standards for both vicarious liability and causation. The court clarified the differences between discrimination claims brought under Title VII and those brought under section 1983.
The court held that section 1983 claims for discrimination in public employment require plaintiffs to establish that the defendant's discriminatory intent was a "but‐for" cause of the adverse employment action; section 1983 claims for discrimination in public employment cannot be based on a respondeat superior or "cat's paw" theory to establish a defendant's liability; and defendants were entitled to qualified immunity because, even when interpreted in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the record cannot support the conclusion that they violated her "clearly established" constitutional rights. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's order in regard to the section 1983 claims against defendants, entered judgment for defendants, and remanded for further proceedings.