No Sealing of Complaint in Sexual Harassment Case Against School District
From Judge Rachel P. Kovner’s decision (entirely correct, in my view) in yesterday’s Bower v. Sewanhaka Central High School Dist.:
Plaintiff filed this lawsuit against her former employer and supervisor, raising claims of sexual harassment, sex discrimination, and retaliation under state and federal law. Before the defendants appeared in the case, the parties reached a settlement. Because the parties settled while the case was still in its early stages, the case file primarily consists of the complaint and docket sheet. Plaintiff now requests, with defendants’ consent, that the case file be sealed. As described below, I deny plaintiff’s request….
“The public and the press have a ‘qualified First Amendment right to … access certain judicial documents.'” These documents include complaints and docket sheets. Although judicial documents “may be kept under seal if … ‘higher values’ … so demand,” such restrictions require “specific, on the record findings” that “closure is essential to preserve h
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