Cuyahoga County settles anti-discrimination case

by on December 15, 2011  •  In Constitutional law, Employment law

Two months ago, I described a federal court decision in Cleveland that allowed a county employee to pursue her claim that the discrimination against her based on sexual orientation was prohibited by the Equal Protection Clause. The agency for which Shari Hutchinson worked had an anti-discrimination policy in place, and I wrote about her case to note how little protection is provided by policies that do not have enforcement mechanisms. Hutchinson v. Cuyahoga County Board of County Commissioners (2011 WL 4452394).

Now the case has been resolved in the way most such claims are concluded after a motion to dismiss is denied: the parties have settled.  According to Freedom to Work, Hutchinson obtained a $100,000 settlement from the defendant. Because the employer was a public sector agency and therefore an arm of the state, the Constitution applied to its actions.

Ohio is one of those large and important states – Pennsylvania and Michigan are others – that has no anti-discrimination law protecting lgbt workers. If Hutchinson had worked in the private sector in Ohio, she would not have had any legal basis to challenge the discrimination. This may have been a rather small scale lawsuit (except for Hutchinson), but that gap in the law is an outrage. 


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