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Halting internal probe pending EEOC action isn’t retaliation

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Employees who simultaneously file an EEOC charge and an internal complaint usually can’t win a retaliation claim just because their internal complaint was put on hold pending the outcome of the EEOC claim.

Recent case: Patricia was an adjunct instructor at a college where her husband taught full-time. When enrollment fell, the college cut ad-juncts’ classes and assigned them to full-time professors. Patricia’s husband picked up two of her classes.

Patricia filed an EEOC age discrimination complaint. She also filed an internal grievance. The college abated the grievance pending EEOC action. Patricia then amended her complaint, alleging the abatement was an act of retaliation.

The court rejected Patricia’s claim. It reasoned that a reasonable employee wouldn’t be dissuaded from filing an EEOC complaint just because the employer might abate an internal grievance. (Coffman v. Alvin Community College, No. 15-40619, 5th Cir., 2016)

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