Employees who claim they have been discriminated against because of a protected characteristic such as age or disability have to show that they suffered an adverse employment action such as discharge or demotion.
They can’t simply point to a poor evaluation. As the following case shows, employers must to be able to criticize employees for the good of the company and the employees.
Recent case: Freddie Spruill is a 57-year-old security guard. When Spruill’s supervisor did his annual, he told Spruill he needed to improve. Spruill sued, alleging age discrimination. He tried to argue that the poor appraisal was an adverse employment action.
The court dismissed the case, concluding criticism “is part of training and necessary to allow employees to develop, improve and avoid discipline.…” (Spruill v. New York City Health and Hospitals, No. 06-CIV-11362, SD NY, 2008)
- Warn bosses: Don't discuss bias complaints
- Is it legal for employees to secretly record their performance evaluation meetings?
- Keep consistent records of all disciplinary actions
- Ledbetter's lesson: Revamp salary guidelines to make pay as fair as possible
- Workers who pursue internal discrimination grievances have extra time to sue