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Discipline after testimony can be retaliation

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in Discrimination and Harassment,HR Management,Human Resources

Reacting angrily to employee litigation can backfire. Filing a lawsuit is a protected activity, and sudden discipline following legal action is dangerous.

Recent case: Jessica Benuzzi worked as a custodian for Chicago schools for many years, slowly rising through the ranks. When she was assigned to a new school, she began having problems with the principal.

Benuzzi filed numerous EEOC complaints about her treatment and then filed a federal lawsuit. The day after her deposition, the school principal in­­formed her that she would be allowed on school grounds only with the principal’s permission and was disciplined for minor incidents that happened months earlier.

The court dismissed all of Benuzzi’s earlier claims that led to the deposition, but allowed her retaliation claim to go forward based on the disciplinary action after the deposition. (Benuzzi v. Board of Education, No. 10-3021, 7th Cir., 2011)

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