Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Fourth Circuit remands section 1981 claim, affirms dismissal of negligence claims, reverses on wrongful discharge claims

In McLean v. Patten Communities, Inc., the Fourth Circuit in a decision by Judge Widener joined by Judge Niemeyer reversed summary judgment on the employment discrimination claims of the plaintiff under 42 U.S.C. 1981, affirmed summary judgment on the plaintiff's claims of negligent retention and supervision under North Carolina law, and reversed summary judgment on the plaintiff's wrongful discharge claims under North Carolina law. Judge Traxler dissented in part, on the negligence claims.

On the section 1981 claim, the panel remanded the case for reconsideration of the claim in light of the Court's decision in Spriggs v. Diamond Auto Glass, 165 F.3d 015 (4th Cir. 1999). In Spriggs, the Court apparently held that an at-will employment relationship is enough of a contract to support a section 1981 claim.

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