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Minimize chance of retaliation suit by insulating new boss from past bias claims

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in Employment Law,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

It often makes sense to offer a fresh start to an employee who claims discrimination. By settling her case and moving her to another position, she gets a chance to begin again, and the employer gets a chance to avoid a potentially expensive lawsuit.

To make the move effective, make sure that any new supervisors don’t know about the bias complaint. That way, any disciplinary problems that occur can’t be viewed as retaliation for filing the original complaint.

Recent case: Genise Douglas was a civilian employee working for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service at a restaurant on an Army post. She filed a discrimination claim and the case was settled with the promise that Douglas would be transferred to a management position in Iraq for one year.

When Douglas began working in Iraq, her supervisor knew nothing about her earlier complaint. Almost immediately, the employees who worked for her began complaining. Over the next few months, every worker she supervised asked to be transferred. Finally, her new supervisor demanded that Douglas be moved.

She was transferred, and she sued, alleging retaliation.

But Douglas couldn’t prove that anyone in Iraq had known about her discrimination settlement. The court said her fresh start had failed because of her own actions. (Douglas v. Gates, No. 3:08-CV-123, ND FL, 2010)

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