Friday, September 04, 2015

Constable Applicant Can Sue Over Religious and Ideological Questions In Job Interview

In Texas, County Constable is an elected position, but where a sitting Constable resigns more than a year before the next scheduled election county commissioners may appoint a new constable to serve until the next election.  In Lloyd v. Birkman, (WD TX, Sept. 2, 2015), a Texas federal district court in a 106-page opinion held that one of the unsuccessful candidates for appointment as County Constable in Williamson County, Texas could pursue various claims against the county and individual commissioners because of the questions asked during the interview process for the position. According to the court:
During the interviews, the candidates received questions on their positions on abortion and same-sex marriage, their political affiliations, the churches that they attended, and their political ideology.
While dismissing some of plaintiff's claims, the court permitted plaintiff to move ahead with his claim that the County committed an unlawful employment practice under Title VII and Texas Commission on Human Rights Act by refusing to hire him because of his religious association, moral views, and ethical beliefs. The court held that the "elected official" exemption does not apply. The court also permitted plaintiff to move ahead against the county and individual defendants on his First Amendment retaliation, freedom of expression and association claims; his 14th Amendment Equal Protection claims; and Texas Constitutional claims. The court rejected plaintiff's violation of privacy claims.