Age discrimination, disability act claims against University of Louisiana dismissed in wrongful termination suit

By Takesha Thomas | May 15, 2019

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana recently granted a motion filed by the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System to dismiss claims of violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act by a former employee in her wrongful termination lawsuit. 

In a May 3 ruling, U.S. District Chief Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown the granted the board's motion to dismiss those claims in the lawsuit filed by Darlene Cancienne saying the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. 

In the ruling, Brown gave Cancienne time to amend her suit to include Title VII claims under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, if applicable. 

Cancienne sued the board and Nicholls State University after she was fired from her position as administrative coordinator at Nicholls State in December 2009, court filings said. Cancienne claimed she was wrongfully terminated in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Attorneys for the board argued that Cancienne's claims should be dismissed with prejudice because the university "is an 'arm of the State of Louisiana' and is entitled to 11th Amendment immunity from suit," court filings said, adding that the 11th Amendment “bars an action for monetary damages by a private individual in federal court against a sovereign state and its agencies unless specifically abrogated by Congress.”

Cancienne had been employed with the university from March 2005 to December 2009, court papers said. In November 2006 she suffered a knee injury at work. As a result, Cancienne claims she was unable to perform her job. According to court papers, the university "failed to reasonably accommodate her, resulting in the exhaustion of her sick days and subsequent firing on Dec. 9, 2009."

Cancienne sued in 2018 alleging that she was fired as a result of the university's failure to accommodate her, adding that her subsequent firing was also due in “substantial part” to her age, court filings said. 

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