Employees don’t have to win their discrimination claims to charge retaliation. That’s why it’s important for HR to stay on top of any disciplinary action aimed at an employee who has already complained about discrimination.
Recent case: Anthony Chatman, who is black, was transferred to Florida—where his new boss promptly declared himself a “redneck.” Over the next few years, Chatman said he had to endure occasional racist taunts. He finally complained to the company. Then his employer fired him for failing to immediately report a work injury.
Chatman sued for discrimination and retaliation. The court tossed out the discrimination claim, but said Chatman would get a trial on the retaliation charge because others had not been fired for similar conduct. It didn’t matter that the discrimination claim was unsuccessful. (Chatman v. Amtrak, No. 3:06-CV-1005, MD FL, 2008)
Final note: HR should have recognized that the discharge was possible retaliation.
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