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Employer Action That Deters Worker from Complaining is "Adverse Action" in Retaliation Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that Title VII’s anti-retaliation provisions bar any action by an employer that would likely deter a reasonable worker or job applicant from making or supporting a complaint of discrimination. The employer’s action does not need to be an “ultimate employment decision” - such as discharging or failing to hire or promote - and, in fact, it does not even need to be employment-related. The Court ruled that a reassignment of job duties, such as making the employee switch to heavier and dirtier work, can be retaliatory discrimination even though the new duties are within the job description the employee had before the change. The Court also found that a 37-day suspension without pay, even though the employee was eventually paid for this period, can be retaliatory discrimination. 

This is a significant win for employees because the new standard makes it easier to prove that an employer retaliated against an employee for opposing discrimination. Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. White, Case number 05-259, 2006 U.S. LEXIS 4895 (June 22, 2006).  Click here to read entire case.

 

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