Employees who claim their employers discriminated against them must be able to prove that they suffered some sort of action that was “adverse,” not merely uncomfortable, inconvenient or even unfair.
“Adverse actions” generally must affect something like pay, benefits, promotion or working conditions. Simply disagreeing with an employer’s decision or being bothered by something that happened at work isn’t enough to persuade most courts to take an employee’s discrimination complaint seriously.
Fortunately, courts don’t expect every workplace to be absolutely fair for every worker.
Recent case: Monica sued her employer for race discrimination. She cited several incidents as proof of “adverse actions,” including receiving unfair reviews, not receiving a requested promotion and being made responsible for more tasks than other co-workers.
The court reviewed each claim and concluded that, while they may have been upsetting, none of them rose to the level of being adverse.
Reviews may be unfair, but if a particular review doesn’t impact pay or benefits, it’s not grounds for a lawsuit. And absent any proof that her failure to get the position was discriminatory in some way, that’s not grounds for litigation either.
And finally, having to do more work than someone else isn’t adverse either unless it can be tied to an illegal reason (race, sex, religion, etc). She had no proof of that, or any other claim, so the court tossed her case out. (Arroyo-Horne v. NYC Police Department, ED NY)