Sunday, December 8, 2013

Shahar v. Bowers case brief

Shahar v. Bowers case brief summary
114 F.3d 1097 (1997)

Plaintiff employee challenged the decision of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, granting defendant employer's motion for summary judgment but denying plaintiff's partial motion for summary judgment in an action seeking both damages and reinstatement. Plaintiff, a woman, claimed that defendant violated her constitutional rights by revoking an employment offer because of her marriage ceremony with another woman.

A rabbi performed a marriage ceremony between plaintiff employee and another woman. The state did not recognize a same-sex marriage, and plaintiff did not claim that the marriage had legal effect. Defendant employer was the state's chief legal officer, and defendant's responsibilities included enforcing state laws by acting as a prosecutor in criminal actions. Plaintiff accepted defendant's offer of a staff attorney position. On the application, plaintiff indicated that she was engaged and listed her future spouse. Defendant withdrew the offer after becoming aware of the situation. Defendant contended that plaintiff's same-sex marriage would create the appearance of conflicting interpretations of state law and interfere with the ability to enforce the state's sodomy law. Plaintiff brought an employment action against defendant, arguing that her federal constitutional rights were violated by revoking the job offer because of her marriage to another woman.


  • The trial court concluded that plaintiff's rights were not violated. 
  • The order was affirmed because plaintiff's associational rights did not outweigh the likelihood of public confusion or harm to defendant's office efficiency.

The court affirmed the trial court's decision granting defendant employer's motion for summary judgment as to plaintiff employee's claim that defendant violated her federal constitutional rights by revoking an employment offer because of her purported marriage to another woman. Plaintiff's intimate associational rights were overcome by defendant's interest in maintaining the effective functioning of the office.

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