Codd v. Velger

429 U.S. 624 (1977)


P alleged that he had been wrongly dismissed without a hearing or a statement of reasons from his position as a patrolman and, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, sought reinstatement and damages for the resulting injury to his reputation and future employment prospects. While still a trainee, P had put a revolver to his head in an apparent suicide attempt. The lower court ruled against P as it found no stigma. On appeal that court held that the finding of no stigma was clearly erroneous. It reasoned that the information about the apparent suicide attempt was of a kind which would necessarily impair employment prospects for one seeking work as a police officer. It also decided that the mere act of making available personnel files with the employee's consent was enough to place responsibility for the stigma on the employer since former employees had no practical alternative but to consent to the release of such information if they wished to be seriously considered for other employment.