One part of the federal law that bans job discrimination (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act) makes it illegal to retaliate against employees who engage in “protected activity,” such as filing a discrimination complaint.
But here’s a key point to remember: That protected activity must be related to discrimination claims under Title VII.
For example, employees who file a state or federal workers’ compensation claim can’t use that action as the basis for their retaliation lawsuit. That’s because neither claim is related to Title VII’s provisions, which cover race and other forms of discrimination.
Recent case: Oscar Jimenez worked as a post office supervisor from 1985 until he retired after being demoted for two months. He sued, claiming the demotion was related to a federal workers’ compensation claim that he filed back in 1994.
But the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed his case.
It reasoned that Title VII retaliation claims must be based on a protected activity related to Title VII in some way. A workers’ comp claim isn’t one of those protected activities. (Jimenez v. Potter, No. 06-50104, 5th Cir., 2006)