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High School Teacher's First Amendment Retaliation Suit

By FindLaw Staff on June 18, 2010 3:35 PM

In Vereecke v. Huron Valley Sch. Dist., No. 08-2051, the Sixth Circuit faced a challenge to the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants in a high school English teacher's suit against a school district and individuals for First Amendment retaliation, claiming that certain disciplinary actions were taken against him for initiating a lawsuit against another teacher on behalf of his daughter for harassment.

As stated in the decision: "The third element of a First Amendment retaliation claim requires the plaintiff to prove 'a causal connection between the protected conduct and the adverse action."  Here, the court determined that plaintiff has failed to show that the speech at issue represented a substantial or motivating factor in the adverse employment action. 

Thus, in affirming the judgment, the court held that the plaintiff has not presented evidence sufficient to raise a genuine issue of material fact in support of causation element of his section 1983 claim against the individual defendants, and because the individual defendants did not violate plaintiff's constitutional rights under the First Amendment, he cannot rely on their conduct to establish a claim of municipal liability. 

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