Suing for Emotional Damages for Demotion After Publicly Criticizing Employer
In Bush v. Lucas, 462 U.S. 367, 103 S. Ct. 2404, 76 L. Ed. 2d 648 (1983), a federal aerospace engineer alleged he had been demoted for publicly criticizing his employer, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, in violation of the First Amendment.
He sought damages, pursuant to a Bivens action, for the emotional distress he suffered during his ordeal. the Court refused to create a cause of action, in large part, because of the "elaborate, comprehensive scheme," including administrative and judicial procedures, which were in place to protect federal civil servants.
While acknowledging that the available administrative remedies did not "provide complete relief for the plaintiff," id. at 388, the Court cautioned that:
The question is not what remedy the court should provide for a wrong that would otherwise go unredressed.
It is whether an elaborate remedial system that has been constructed step by step, with careful attention to conflicting policy considerations, should be augmented by the creation of a new judicial remedy for the constitutional violation at issue.
That question obviously cannot be answered simply by noting that existing remedies do not provide complete relief for the plaintiff.
Importantly, the Supreme Court was "convinced that Congress is in a better position to decide whether or not the public interest would be served by creating the remedy requested." Id. at 390.