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Political discrimination case reinstated on appeal


A federal appeals court has reinstated a “political discrimination” case filed by a Puerto Rican public official who claimed she was terminated from her position after an opposition party took office.

Sheila Reyes-Orta filed suit against defendants including the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority claiming she was stripped of various job duties and ultimately terminated from her job at the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority because of her affiliation with the Popular Democratic Party, after the candidate representing the rival New Progressive Party, Luis Fortuño, took office as governor following the 2008 general election, according to Monday’s ruling by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston in Sheila Reyes-Orta et al. v. Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority et al. She had worked for the Puerto Rico government for nearly three decades.

Ms. Reyes-Orta said after a member of the NPP party took over as human resources director at the authority, she was allegedly stripped of various job duties and then terminated in May 2010, according to the ruling. Ms. Reyes Ortiz and her husband filed suit in May 2011 in U.S. District Court in San Juan, Puerto Rico, charging violation of her constitutional rights and Puerto Rican law.

The U.S. District Court dismissed the case and Ms. Ryes-Orta appealed.

A three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit unanimously reinstated the case. Ms. Reyes-Orta has established a prima facie case of political discrimination, says the ruling.

There is evidence that “taken together, raises an inference that the defendants’ actions were politically motivated,” said the appeals court in remanding the case for further proceedings.

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