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Threatening suspension could be retaliation

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Warn bosses: Threatening someone with discipline may be retaliation.

Recent case: Richard Parks, who is black, resigned from his job with the IRS, claiming he quit because his white female supervisor discriminated against him.

Parks sued for race discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

It turns out, shortly after Parks filed an internal bias complaint, his supervisor had threatened to suspend him because of paperwork irregularities. The supervisor told Parks that management had to “protect” itself because the government employees union was “playing games.”

The court dismissed Parks’ discrimination and harassment claims; there was no evidence of bias.

But the court let his retaliation claim proceed. It didn’t buy the IRS’ argument that threatening discipline isn’t retaliation if the threat is never carried out. (Parks v. Geithner, No. 3:09-CV-141, SD OH, 2011)

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