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“No, Thank You,” is Not Protected Activity

Ok, students in my employment discrimination law class, here’s a pop quiz.  “Would you like to go grab dinner with me?” said the boss to his subordinate employee.  “No, thanks,” responds the employee, “I don’t believe in mixing business with pleasure.”   A few weeks later, the employee is reassigned or terminated.  Was the employee’s rejection of […]

Documentation of Performance Issues Defeats Employee’s Claims of Retaliation

Employers may find it concerning when their employees with performance issues also complain of workplace discrimination.  A recent decision out of the Eastern District of Virginia illustrates how progressive discipline, documentation of employee work performance problems, and investigation of employee workplace complaints can help protect employers in the long run.  Gooding-Williams v. Fairfax County School […]

Separation Code That Raises Red Flags Can Constitute Post-Settlement Retaliation

When serious problems in the workplace arise, a settlement and release that allows the employer and employee to go their separate ways often presents as an attractive resolution.  The employee can separate neutrally to look for a more suited work environment, while the employer can move on without fear of litigation.  Unless of course the […]

Some Fun Facts About The EEOC’s 2018 Charge Data

The EEOC released its 2018 charge statistics earlier this week.  Here are three key pieces of information to consider: Charge filings have decreased.  In 2018, the EEOC processed 76,418 charges, which represents more than a 9% decrease from 2017, a nearly 17% decrease from 2016, and a 23.5% decreased from the all-time high year of […]

Losing Out On Voluntary Overtime Chances Can Be Tangible, Adverse Action.

Employers are by now well-versed in the concept that under Title VII, an employer is strictly liable for a supervisor’s harassment when the harassment results in a tangible employment action.  The obvious employment actions include termination, demotion, failure to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, etc.  The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Ray v. […]

Employee Who Copies Personnel Records Loses Retaliation Claim

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has ruled that an employee’s review and copying of confidential personnel files to be used in support of her charge of discrimination is not protected by Title VII’s anti-retaliation provisions when it was done in violation of a state law. Netter v. Barnes, No. 18-1039 […]

Yes, Really, Honeywell. You Should Not Finally Fire An Employee Who Has Been Chronically Tardy For 12 Years Only After She Files An FMLA Leave Request.

Honeywell International learned the hard way a lesson that comes up regularly with employers:  An employee who has had a long-standing problem with X.  And X can be anything from tardiness, forgetting to clock out, violating dress code, missing regular internal filing deadlines, or some other consistent deficiency, that is frustrating and warrants discipline, yet […]

First Circuit Holds University’s Response To Sex Harassment Is Retaliation

Now more than ever, employers are aware of their obligation to take prompt remedial action in response to complaints of sex harassment.  But what happens when the employer’s attempt to placate a complainant through voluntary transfer results in less favorable work conditions?  Well, now the complainant has a cause of action for retaliation, explained the […]