An employee who alleges he suffered retaliation for engaging in protected activity can still lose the case even if he proves the retaliation would have dissuaded a reasonable employee from complaining in the first place.
All the employer needs to show is that it had legitimate business reasons for its action.
Recent case: Curtis, a truck driver, complained when an HR staffer allegedly made a racist comment about Mexicans. Shortly after, he was reassigned from a long distance route to a city route. He sued, claiming the route change was retaliation.
But the employer explained it made the move because Curtis had been consistently late with deliveries and, therefore, wasn’t meeting goals. That was enough for the court to toss out his lawsuit. A good business reason shows the employer didn’t punish Curtis for the complaint, but. (Marlow v. McClatchey, No. 15-2147, SD TX, 2016)