The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dismissed a teacher’s claim that the school district employer failed to provide her with statutory due process when it reduced her full-time position to half-time, holding that the reduction in hours and salary did not constitute a “termination” under Connecticut law.
Catherine Mirabilio, a tenured culinary arts teacher employed by Regional School District 16, was informed in May 2011 that her teaching position had been reduced to half-time starting the next school year. Rather than requesting an administrative hearing, Mirabilio filed a lawsuit in Connecticut Superior Court alleging that the school district violated her due process and equal protection rights by failing to provide a hearing prior to reducing her work hours. The case was removed to Federal Court. The school district then moved to dismiss the lawsuit for failure to sufficiently allege a constitutional or statutory violation. The district court dismissed the complaint, holding that under Connecticut law only a “termination” triggers a right to prior notice and a hearing, and the teacher’s reduction in hours did not constitute a termination.
In reaching its decision, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals cited Connecticut decisions that held that an employee reassigned to a lower-paying position is not considered “terminated” pursuant to Connecticut statute. Pointing to the language of Conn. Gen. Stat. 10-151 which defines “full-time employment” as employment in a position at a salary rate of fifty percent or more, the Court held that Mirabilio remained a “full-time” employee despite her new half-time position. Accordingly, she was not “terminated” and no due process right was triggered.