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Discrimination claim dropped, retaliation claim goes to jury

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources

A cosmetology instructor in the state prison system will have her case heard by a jury after she convinced a judge her employer most likely retaliated against her for filing a race discrimination charge with the EEOC.

The instructor, who had an exemplary record for many years, claims her employer changed its behavior and singled her out for different treatment beginning in her 14th year on the job. She filed suit, alleging the disparate treatment was because she was black.

That’s when things really went downhill. Her classes were oversubscribed in violation of prison policy, other teachers began criticizing her teaching techniques, and her supplies were inspected daily instead of weekly as other employees’ were. She claims managers did not tell her about important meetings.

She filed an additional charge of retaliation. In court, she conceded she could not prove her race discrimination charge, but showing retaliation was easy. The judge agreed and allowed her retaliation charge to go forward.

A word to the wise: Don’t attempt to teach litigious employees a lesson. Courts have long recognized an employee’s right to access the court system without fear of retribution. Employers too often make it easy for employees in court—all they have to do is harass employees after lawsuits have been filed. 

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