Barton v. Clancy, 08-2479 - Civil Rights Law - U.S. First Circuit
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Barton v. Clancy, 08-2479

Civil rights action against a mayor for disability harassment and retaliation

Barton v. Clancy, 08-2479, concerned a challenge to the district court's grant of defendant's motion for summary judgment in plaintiff's suit against a mayor for disability harassment and retaliation based on the exercise of his First Amendment rights, arising from an ongoing conflict between the mayor and plaintiff, a retired firefighter.


In affirming, the court held that the district court properly granted summary judgment as to the state law disability harassment claim, which arises from the mayor's persistent public criticism of plaintiff following his appointment as basketball coach, as the mayor was not plaintiff's employer for purposes of the coaching job.  The court also held that, although a few Massachusetts decisions have imposed liability for workplace harassment on defendants who were not the plaintiff's employer, none have imposed liability on a non-employer where the alleged harasser was never physically present on the plaintiff's work site and none of the alleged harassing acts occurred at the plaintiff's workplace.  The court held that the district court properly granted summary judgment as to the First Amendment claim as the mayor's refusal to appoint plaintiff to the Parks Commission in retaliation for the exercise of his First Amendment rights was not a violation of clearly established law. Lastly, the court held that the mayor is entitled to qualified immunity on plaintiff's First Amendment claim based on retaliatory harassment because it cannot be said that a reasonable official in the mayor's shoes would have understood that his conduct violated plaintiff's constitutional rights.

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