When you warn supervisors not to retaliate against employees who complain about alleged discrimination, include this reminder: Seemingly little things—like increasing the employee’s workload or nit-picking about performance issues—can lead to a retaliation lawsuit.
Recent case: After Chrisarla Houston graduated from Harvard Law School, she took a job as a professor at Texas Southern University. She soon began complaining that she was paid less than male professors for doing the same work. Her supervisor told her she was wrong and explained the disparity.
Shortly after, her supervisor assigned her a much larger class than before and complained that she hadn’t posted her office hours. Houston sued, alleging sex discrimination and retaliation.
The court dismissed the sex discrimination claim based on the university’s explanation, but said her retaliation claim could go to trial. (Houston v. Texas Southern, No. H-08-3163, SD TX, 2011)