Employees who complain about discrimination can sue if they suffer retaliation for complaining. Retaliation is anything that would dissuade a reasonable employee from complaining in the first place.
The key is “reasonable.” A worker who sees every minor problem as evidence of retaliation won’t get far.
Recent case: Walter, a probationary teacher, lost his job when his contract wasn’t renewed. He complained about discrimination and was reinstated.
Later, he sued, alleging retaliation for having complained. He claimed that he had to wait for his first teaching assignment after he was reinstated. He said his email sometimes didn’t work and that he was offered a coaching position that he thought would be used later to set up an excuse to fire him.
The court tossed out Walter’s case, concluding that a reasonable employee wouldn’t see those minor annoyances as retaliation. (Whitaker v. Nash Rocky Mount, et al., No. 5:12-CV-623, ED NC, 2013)
- Feel free to let the punishment fit the 'crime' when disciplining for off-duty conduct
- Immunize hiring processes against bias suits
- Saving grace: Hostile environment in one area can't prove discrimination companywide
- Rein in abusive managers: Even 'Flip Wilson' claim sways jury
- Beware ADA claims if alleged victim isn't satisfied with harassment investigation