Due Process Not Implicated By Officer’s Unsafe Working Environmen

Natalie Mims was a correctional officer in the Philadelphia prison system. Sims sued the City, contending that she was forced to resign her job. Sims alleged among other claims that the City failed to provide her with a safe working environment, and that the failure to do so violated her rights to “substantive” due process.

A federal court dismissed Mims’ substantive due process claim. The Court found that substantive due process rights exist only where an employee’s property interest is “fundamental,” and where an employer’s actions amount to an “arbitrary or irrational” taking of the property right from the employee. Quoting from a decision of the United States Supreme Court, the Court found that “neither the text nor the history of the Due Process Clause supports a claim that the governmental employer’s duty to provide its employees with a safe working environment is a substantive component of the Due Process Clause. Although workplace dangers may constitute deprivations of substantive due process where they result from ‘conscience-shocking conduct,’ including deliberate indifference to safety, Mims has not alleged any conduct that shocks the conscience.”

Mims v. City of Philadelphia, 2010 WL 2077140 (E.D.Pa. 2010).

This article appears in the October 2010 issue