Tomasko v. Western Connecticut State University
The 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution can prevent a former university employee from alleging in the U.S. District Court that the university violated the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Allegedly, Western Connecticut State University and the individual defendants discharged the 61-year-old plaintiff, Helen Tomasko, in August 2007, and Tomasko sued, alleging discriminatory discharge, because she suffered from cancer and required cancer treatment. Tomasko alleged that the university violated the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The defendant university moved to dismiss and argued it was entitled to sovereign immunity, as an arm of the state, pursuant to the 11th Amendment. Unless a state waives its immunity or Congress enacts legislation that abrogates the state's immunity, the 11th Amendment bars legal action against the state and its agencies. The court found that the 11th Amendment bars District Court suits against states and state agencies alleging violations of the ADA and ADEA. The State of Connecticut has not waived its sovereign immunity with respect to these claims. The defendant, Western Connecticut State University, qualifies as an arm of the state, and the court dismissed the plaintiff's ADA and ADEA claims against the university.