Retaliation; Disability Discrimination; Environmental Health & Safety; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity; Real Property, Facilities & Construction
Forsyth v. University of Alabama Board of Trustees, et al. (N.D. Ala. Feb. 23, 2018)
Memorandum Opinion granting Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff, a carpenter for the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa (UA) who reported two instances of asbestos on campus, alleged disability discrimination and retaliation against Defendants following his termination, pursuant to the Rehabilitation Act (RA), the First and Fourteenth Amendments, the Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Reauthorization Act (ASHARA), the Asbestos School Hazard Detection and Control Act (ASHDCA), the State Employee Protection Act, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The court dismissed Plaintiff’s RA claim because he failed to allege in his complaint that his depression and anxiety substantially limited a major life activity. The court further dismissed Plaintiff’s conclusory claims of harassment, failure to accommodate, and retaliation under the RA. On a matter of first impression, the court dismissed Plaintiff’s retaliation claims under the ASHARA and ASHDCA, holding that governing boards of postsecondary institutions were not “educational agencies,” and thus not subject to the statutes. Addressing Plaintiff’s section 1983 claims, the court dismissed Plaintiff’s First Amendment retaliation claim because his reports of asbestos contamination were not made as a private citizen, while Plaintiff’s procedural due process claims were dismissed because he did not allege a plausible property interest in his continued employment at UA, since the Complaint did not specify whether Plaintiff worked under a term contract or had some sort of contractual interest in lifetime employment. Last, Eleventh Amendment immunity protected Individual Defendants against Plaintiff’s section 1983 claims.