Beware retaliation suit if lateral transfer harms career

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

While employers generally are free to direct their workforces in reasonable ways to meet operational needs, they can’t retaliate against employees for complaining about possible discrimination. In Princeton v. Lowe’s Home Centers, a mere reassignment to another department in a retail store wasn’t retaliation, but a legitimate management move.

On the other hand, a transfer or series of transfers that limits future opportunities may be retaliation.

Recent case: After Brenda O’Neal sued the city of Chicago for sex discrimination, she found herself transferred from department to department. The transfers limited her opportunities for promotion since she never got much experience in any one job.

Then O’Neal sued for retaliation. The court said under those circumstances, a transfer might be retaliation. (O’Neal v. City of Chicago, No. 09-1716, 7th Cir., 2009)

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