Plaintiff Adam Locke sued defendant Mya Haessig, a state official, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Locke alleges Haessig is liable because of how she responded to his complaint that her subordinate, a parole officer, was sexually harassing Locke, a parolee. Locke has provided evidence that Haessig was told of the harassment, failed to intervene or investigate, and then threatened to retaliate against Locke for complaining.
The district court denied Haessig’s motion for summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity. We affirm the denial of qualified immunity. Accepting Locke’s version of the facts, we conclude that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for Locke.
Haessig was told of Locke’s complaints of sexual harassment but never met with him to discuss the allegations or tried to protect him from further harassment. Haessig’s argument conflicts with the principle that a supervisor could be liable for ignoring complaints from one identifiable group while acting on similar complaints from those of another group.
See Nabozny v. Podlesny, 92 F.3d at 454–56 (reversing summary judgment on equal protection claim; school officials ignored male plaintiff’s complaints of harassment but acted on female students’ harassment complaints);
see also Bohen v. City of East Chicago, 799 F.2d at 1190 (Posner, J., concurring) (“The chief of the fire department was aware of the harassment, which was frequent rather than isolated and in which at least one supervisory employee was implicated; yet he did nothing.
It was as if the chief knew that his men were systematically refusing to put out fires in homes owned by blacks, yet did nothing to correct the situation.”).
Short perhaps only of a confession of intentional discrimination, selective inaction can be strong evidence of discriminatory intent. See Adam A. Locke, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Mya Haessig, Defendant-Appellant. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. No. 10-CV-430-JPS—J.P. Stadtmueller, Judge. Argued October 31, 2014 — Decided June 5, 2015 Hamilton, Circuit Judge.