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Annoyed, inconvenienced? That’s not retaliation

by on
in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

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)

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