In an opinion yesterday, Judge Koeltl dismissed discrimination and retaliation claims from a chauffeur for the Swedish foreign ministry, finding that the case did not fall within the “commercial” exception to sovereign immunity:
In his capacity as a chauffeur, the plaintiff was responsible for transporting the Swedish Ambassador and the Ambassador’s family, Swedish diplomats and their families, and even members of the Royal Family of Sweden. The defendants’ employment of the plaintiff as a full-time chauffeur for the Mission entrusted the plaintiff with the safe transport of Swedish dignitaries, an activity integral to effecting the governmental function of the Mission. A sovereign’s decisions on how best to address the safety concerns of government officials are peculiarly sovereign because the failure to protect or safeguard a sovereign representative, such as an ambassador or a titular head of state, can have extremely adverse consequences for the sovereign nation. The plaintiff’s employment relationship was non-commercial because it was sufficiently intertwined with the defendants’ governmental function.