Some government agencies and utilities have special-duty assignments—units that are called out in emergencies or during busy times. While serving on such a team may be prestigious, not being selected isn’t usually grounds for a discrimination lawsuit.
That’s especially true when the assignment doesn’t involve extra pay, isn’t a prerequisite to promotion and otherwise is merely additional work for the same pay and benefits.
Recent case: Lisa, who is black, was a Harris County deputy. Over the years, she filed several internal discrimination complaints. Then she was terminated when a subcontractor’s customers complained about her behavior while on assignment.
Lisa sued, alleging that she had also been discriminated against when her application to be part of a water-rescue team was rejected. Team members don’t get extra pay or benefits and are activated only during serious floods when people need to be rescued from rising water.
The court dismissed her claim because not being selected for the team wasn’t an adverse employment action. Nothing negative flowed from Lisa’s nonselection. She didn’t lose out on extra pay or benefits. (Bullocks v. Office of Harris County Constable, et al., No. H-11-2049, SD TX, 2012)
Final note: If being on the water-rescue team meant she would have received additional training not available to others, she might have had a case. The same is true if team members were paid extra for emergency water rescues.
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- Boss's stray comment isn't enough to prove national origin discrimination
- Age discrimination harder to prove following 7th Circuit ruling
- When worker claims bias or harassment: document, investigate and communicate
- Be patient and scrupulously fair when dealing with litigious employee who has complained