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Monell v. Department of Social Services

United States Supreme Court
436 U.S. 658 (1978)


In 1971, Monell was part of a class of female employees of the Department of Social Services and the Board of Education of New York City who brought a § 1983 action against the department, the board, the city and individual officials of each entity. The complaint alleged that the department and the board, as a matter of official policy, forced pregnant employees to take unpaid leaves of absences prior to any necessary medical leave. The complaint sought injunctive relief and back pay. On cross summary judgment motions, the District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled the practice unconstitutional, but held the claim for injunction moot, because the entities corrected their policies prior to the court decision. The trial court denied back pay, however, because it concluded the pay would come from the city, which enjoys sovereign immunity pursuant to Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167 (1961). The court of appeals affirmed, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Brennan, J.)

Concurrence (Stevens, J.)

Concurrence (Powell, J.)

Dissent (Rehnquist, J.)

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