11th Circuit Court of Appeals finds for state employee on gender conformity issues

January 29, 2012

In a decision issued on December 6, 2011, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (which hears appeals from the federal trial courts in Georgia, Alabama and Florida) agreed with the district court in concluding that a former employee of the Georgia General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Counsel (“OLC”) was terminated in violation of the Equal Protection clause because she was terminated for her gender non-conformity.   The case is Glenn v. Brumby, Nos. 10-14833, 10-15015, 2011 WL 6029978 (11th Cir. Dec. 6, 2011).   The employee, Glenn, was born a male and later diagnosed with gender identity disorder, a diagnosis which is contained in the 4th edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or “DSM-IV”.  She began working for the OLC as a man and later told her supervisor that she was going to undergo a gender transition and would start coming to work as a woman.  The head of the OLC, Brumby, fired Glenn because “her intended gender transition was inappropriate… would be disruptive, … some people would view it as a moral issue, and … it would make some of [her] coworkers uncomfortable.”  As the opinion explains, the Equal Protection clause requires state employers such as the OLC to treat similarly situated persons alike and avoid “arbitrary or irrational” classifications.  Because Glenn worked for a state employer, she had to show more than the direct discriminatory motive of Brumby; she also had to show that Brumby did not identify a “sufficiently important governmental interest” for his discriminatory behavior.  She succeeded in doing so.

Take-away quotes:

“All persons, whether transgender or not, are protected from discrimination on the basis of gender stereotype . . . . An individual cannot be punished because of her or her perceived gender-nonconformity.  Because these protections are afforded to everyone, they cannot be denied to a transgender individual.”

To read the entire opinion, click Glenn v Brumby.

 

I just got a speeding ticket and I’m only 17. If I pay the fine, will my license be suspended?

January 29, 2012

It depends.  Since you are under 18, whether your driver’s license will be suspended will depend on how many “points” you have accumulated in a 12-month period.  It will be suspended if you have accumulated 4 or more points in a 12 month period.  Some speeding tickets carry no points (going 14 mph over or less), some carry 2-4 points, and one type (going 34 mph over or more) carries 6 points.

If your license is suspended for too many points, the first suspension will be for 6 months, and the second time it’s suspended for too many points, it will be suspended for 12 months.

 

I thought I was too young to be a “juvenile delinquent”. Is there a minimum age for delinquency in Georgia?

January 29, 2012

No, there is no minimum age for juvenile delinquency proceedings to be commenced against you in Georgia.  But, you have to be at least 13 to be criminally responsible for an act, an omission, or negligence.

Will I be kicked out of school if I’m adjudicated with a felony in juvenile court? Don’t I have a right to a public education?

January 29, 2012

If you were expelled or suspended for being convicted of a felony (in criminal court), being adjudicated to have committed a felony or any delinquent act under O.C.G.A. §15-11-28 which, if it were committed by an adult, would be a felony, or for being indicted for same, your school board can refuse to re-enroll you and can refuse to let you attend an alternative educational program.  O.C.G.A. §20-2-768(a).  And, if you try to enroll in another school outside your district, that district can refuse to enroll you.

Note that if you are under an IEP, you have the right to a “Free Appropriate Public Education”, or FAPE, and your school board cannot take away all educational services provided to you.

 

Can I get my juvenile delinquency records sealed?

January 29, 2012

If your delinquency case is dismissed, the court will order your records to be sealed.  Similarly, if your case is handled through informal adjustment, your records will also be sealed after completion of the informal adjustment.  If you are adjudicated a delinquent, two years have passed since you were discharged from your delinquency case, you have been rehabilitated and you have not been convicted of a felony or of a misdemeanor involving “moral turpitude” since your final discharge and there are no proceedings against you, you can apply to have your court records and law enforcement records sealed.  Note, however, that some records, such as adjudications of designated felonies, cannot be sealed.

What should I do if the school board schedules a student disciplinary hearing to hear charges that my child violated a school code of conduct rule?

January 5, 2012

If the school board schedules a disciplinary hearing, it means that your child’s school principal has recommended that your child be suspended for more than 10 days or expelled, or your child is alleged to have committed an assault or battery upon a teacher, other school official, or school employee and that teacher, school official or school employee requests that a disciplinary hearing be held. At a minimum, you should: (1) review your child’s school’s “student code of conduct” for information on the rule your child allegedly violated; (2) review the letter notifying you of the student disciplinary hearing for information on how to obtain copies of the documents your child’s school will use against your child at the hearing and obtain copies of all statements and evidence the school will use at the hearing; (3) review the code of conduct and/or the school’s letter for information about any deadlines for notifying the school that you will be bringing an attorney to the hearing, if that is what you plan to do.

If your child is alleged to have violated a school rule that is also a criminal offense, it is highly recommended that you seek advice from an attorney familiar with school law, juvenile law, and, depending on the nature of the alleged offense and/or your child’s age, criminal law, so that additional evidence is not created at the school hearing that could be used against your child in a juvenile delinquency/criminal proceeding.

Note, that if your child is under an IEP, the hearing will be split into two parts, the “adjudicatory”, or “guilt” phase, and then a “Manifestation Determination” to determine whether the alleged rule violation was directly and substantially related to your child’s disability or was a direct result of the school’s failure to implement the IEP.

It is illegal for my child’s school to take photographs of her bottom without first advising me or allowing me to be present?

January 5, 2012

No.  Under Georgia law, school teachers, school administrators, school guidance counselors, visiting teachers, school social workers and school psychologists are required to report child abuse under certain circumstances.  See generally O.C.G.A. §19-7-5.  That is, where they have “reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused”, they must “report or cause reports of that abuse to be made” as set forth in O.C.G.A. §19-7-5.  See O.C.G.A. §19-7-5(c)(1)-(2).  “Child abuse” is defined in relevant part as “[p]hysical injury or death inflicted upon a child by a parent or caretaker thereof by other than accidental means; provided, however, physical forms of discipline may be used as long as there is no physical injury to the child”.  O.C.G.A. §19-7-5(b)(3)(A).  In connection with reporting the suspected child abuse, the statute specifically states:

Photographs of the child’s injuries to be used as documentation in support of allegations by . . .  school officials . . . may be taken without the permission of the child’s parent or guardian.  Such photograph shall be made available as soon as possible to the chief welfare agency providing protective services and to the appropriate policy authority.

 O.C.G.A. §19-7-5(e).