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When employee complains about discrimination, be alert for signs bosses are retaliating

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Firing,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Performance Reviews

Has an employee complained about a supervisor’s alleged discrimination? If so, carefully review any important employment decisions the supervisor subsequently makes. Be alert for potential retaliation.

Recent case: Rhonda Covert investigated child abuse and neglect for the Monroe County Department of Job and Family Services. Early in her tenure, she received good performance reviews.

Then she filed a complaint alleging that her supervisors were biased against women and preferred male applicants and employees. Shortly after, she tried for a promotion, but scored lower than other employees on the interview.

It turned out that the other applicants may have scored better because they got the questions beforehand from the supervisors—the ones Covert had complained about. Then Covert received a poor performance review and was fired for not completing necessary reports.

She sued, alleging that her missed promotion and firing were retaliation.

The court said Covert’s firing was justified, but that the promotion process revealed possible retaliation. A jury will decide whether denying her the promotion was retaliation for filing the complaint. (Covert v. Monroe County Department of Job and Family Services, No. 2:08-CV-744, SD OH, 2010)

Final note: Retaliation is anything that would dissuade a reasonable employee from complaining about possible discrimination in the first place. The issue in this case: Would a reasonable employee have refrained from alleging sex discrimination if she knew that other candidates being considered for promotion would get a leg up from management at her expense?

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