Many an employee has filed a lawsuit, lost … and found herself still working for the company she sued. Little wonder that she might sense retaliation in every subsequent action that hurts her career. And—go figure—that makes another lawsuit all the more likely.
Prepare for that possibility by making it a point to document how her supervisors treat her after her first case runs its course. Pay particular attention to positive developments, such as training opportunities. Be sure to note any promotion opportunities that she didn’t apply for. That way, you will have evidence to counter retaliation claims.
Recent case: Irene worked for the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for about 30 years in various roles. She wanted to become a regional administrator (RA) and sometimes temporarily served in that capacity when the incumbent was absent.
However, when others were promoted and she was not, she sued, alleging discrimination. Her case was dismissed.
A few years later, Irene sued again, this time alleging retaliation. She said that after her first lawsuit was dismissed, her new supervisor had refused to let her serve as acting RA, cutting off opportunities for further advancement.
The DMV argued that nothing about her salary, benefits or other opportunities had changed. While Irene didn’t get acting RA assignments for a few years, she did get plenty of other opportunities to develop herskills. Plus, she never bothered to apply for RA positions that opened after the first lawsuit.
The court tossed out Irene’s retaliation claim. It reasoned that she couldn’t show any sort of adverse action. Her employer hadn’t punished her for suing. (Madrid v. Department of Motor Vehicles, No. B231139, Court of Appeal of California, 2nd Appellate District, 2012)
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- Investigative finger points back at accuser? It's OK to fire
- Discipline sexist supervisors--and keep them far away from any disciplinary decisions
- Record-Keeping: Heed federal rules for discovery of e-mail, IMs
- Don't fear informal ADA accommodation: You can still challenge disability later