Reassignment to new position might be retaliation

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in Employment Law,Firing,Human Resources

Some employees might welcome a transfer from a physically challenging job to a more sedentary one. But for someone who liked the old job and doesn’t feel qualified for the new one, the move could feel like retaliation.

Recent case: Deborah Gardner worked for Aviagen, starting as a chicken talon remover and progressing to a warehouse position where she loaded eggs and did light clerical work.

Gardner complained about sexual harassment. Shortly after, she was told she had to transfer to a clerk position that required computer skills. Gardner saw the move as a set-up to fail. She refused and was fired.

She then sued, alleging retaliation. The court said a jury should decide whether the transfer was retaliation based on Gardner’s lack of relevant skills and desire to stay in the warehouse. (Gardner v. Aviagen, No. 10-15821, 11th Cir., 2011)

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