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Back v. Hastings on Hudson Union Free School District

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
365 F.3d 107 (2d Cir. 2004)


Facts

In 1998, Elana Back (plaintiff) began working as a probationary-school psychologist at Hillside Elementary School in the Hastings on Hudson Union Free School District (the school district) (defendant). Back was to be considered for tenure after three years. After her first year, Back received excellent evaluations from her supervisors, Marilyn Wishnie and Ann Brennan (defendants). Back took three months of maternity leave during her second year. Upon returning, Back received even better reviews from Wishnie and Brennan. At the beginning of her third year, Back continued to receive positive evaluations. However, as Back’s tenure review neared, Wishnie and Brennan began expressing doubts that Back could be a good mother and still perform well at her job or that Back would work as hard once she obtained tenure, because Back had young children and was a young mother. These concerns were reiterated throughout the year. On June 13, 2001, Wishnie and Brennan gave Back her first negative evaluation, citing difficult behavior and inaccurate work. This evaluation, which was submitted to the superintendent, John Russell (defendant), recommended that Back be denied tenure. On June 18, 2001, Russell informed Back that her probationary appointment would be terminated. Back sued the defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the defendants had violated Back’s constitutional right to equal protection by firing her on the presumption that Back would be less devoted to work because she was a young mother. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. Back appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Calabresi, J.)

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