On November 30, 2009, Judge Jeffrey S. White of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California partially denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss in Galli v. Pittsburg Unified School District. The Court held that an employee’s wrongful termination constitutes an ongoing violation and that reinstatement is prospective injunctive relief from unconstitutional state action. Accordingly, a request for reinstatement is not barred by the Eleventh Amendment. The Court also held that since damages sought from Superintendent Barbara Wilson and board member Percy McGee as individuals will not come from public funds, they are not immune from claims that they deprived Mr. Galli of federal rights under the color of state law. Accordingly, Mr. Galli may proceed against them in their individual capacitates and seek punitive damages.
This decision is an important victory for public employees. It shows that it is possible to pierce the veil of immunity surrounding government officials, holding them personally responsible for their violations of individuals’ rights and the law. Mr. Galli is represented by David Scher, a principal at The Employment Law Group® law firm. For information on The Employment Law Group® law firm’s Wrongful Discharge Practice, click here.