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Worker loses lawsuit? Track new opportunities

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Many an employee has filed a lawsuit, lost … and found herself still working for the company she sued. Little wonder that she might sense retaliation in every subsequent action that hurts her career. And—go figure—that makes another lawsuit all the more likely.

Prepare for that possibility by making it a point to document how her supervisors treat her after her first case runs its course. Pay particular attention to positive developments, such as training opportunities. Be sure to note any promotion opportunities that she didn’t apply for. That way, you will have evidence to counter retaliation claims.

Recent case: Irene worked for the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for about 30 years in various roles. She wanted to become a regional administrator (RA) and sometimes temporarily served in that capacity when the incumbent was absent.

However, when others were promoted and she was not, she sued, alleging discrimination. Her case was dismissed.

A few years later, Irene sued again, this time alleging retaliation. She said that after her first lawsuit was dismissed, her new supervisor had refused to let her serve as acting RA, cutting off opportunities for further advancement.

The DMV argued that nothing about her salary, benefits or other opportunities had changed. While Irene didn’t get acting RA assignments for a few years, she did get plenty of other opportunities to develop her management skills. Plus, she never bothered to apply for RA positions that opened after the first lawsuit.

The court tossed out Irene’s retaliation claim. It reasoned that she couldn’t show any sort of ad­­verse action. Her employer hadn’t punished her for suing. (Madrid v. Department of Motor Vehicles, No. B231139, Court of Appeal of California, 2nd Appellate District, 2012)

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