D.D.C. Rules Employee’s Blocked Access to Classified Data During Conduct Investigation Not A Materially Adverse Action

Bernadette Hunton
Bernadette Hunton
03/15/2022
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia recently addressed to what extent an employer may take steps to protect confidential business data during an investigation of employee misconduct.  Jimenez v. Mayorkas, No. 17-cv-2731 (D.D.C. 3/1/22). Rolando Jimenez is a government employee who, in 2012, was granted access to HSDN, a classified information system.  A few years later, he was placed on special assignment with an external...
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Placement on Leave Pending Investigation is Not Adverse Action

When employers conduct investigations into suspected employee misconduct, they often place the employee on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.  The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia recently held that placing an employee on such a leave does not amount to an adverse employment action under the anti-retaliation provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.  Kashif v. PNC Bank, Civil Action No,...
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Long Gap Not Fatal To Retaliation Claim

A retaliation claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) requires that there be protected activity, a materially adverse employment action, and a causal connection between the protected activity and the adverse action.  An employee engages in protected activity when, for example, he opposes an unlawful employment practice or participates in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing regarding conduct that is proscribed by...
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Fourth Circuit Rules Termination of Public Employee For Disclosing Confidential Information Not Retaliatory Discharge

Bernadette Hunton
Bernadette Hunton
06/02/2021
In a recent case involving termination of a public employee who disclosed confidential information about an ongoing investigation, the Fourth Circuit held that the employee’s termination was not retaliatory-discharge for the employee’s exercise of his First Amendment rights.  Billioni v. Bryant, No. 20-1420 (4th Cir. 5/25/21). Billioni worked for the York County Sheriff’s Office.  His wife worked for a local news station.  Following the...
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Fourth Circuit Rules That A Retaliation Claim Cannot Be Brought Under Equal Protection Clause

Vincent Jackson
Vincent Jackson
08/19/2020
Last week, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals addressed for the first time whether a retaliation claim can be brought against a government employer under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The answer? No. The female plaintiff, a former Deputy Commonwealth Attorney for Carroll County, Virginia, brought a Section 1983 claim against her former employer under the theory that she was fired in retaliation for reporting sex...
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Does “Zone of Interest” Retaliation Require Employment?

Darrell VanDeusen
Darrell VanDeusen
02/10/2020
In her blog post of January 27, 2020, my partner Bernadette Hunton reported on the EEOC’s charge statistics in the 2019 fiscal year.  According to the EEOC, nearly 54% of the 72,675 charges filed in fiscal 2019 included a retaliation component. Now, this percentage may be somewhat meaningless.  A charging party need only check the box on a form to raise a claim, regardless of whether the actual elements of retaliation exist (i.e., a good...
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Timing Is Not Enough - Retaliation Claim Fails For Employee Fired Nine Days After Filing A Complaint

Randi Klein Hyatt
Randi Klein Hyatt
01/03/2020
An IT company analyst was not entitled to have a jury decide if he was fired in retaliation for complaining about race discrimination as he claims, versus the performance issues that his former employer identified.  Mr. Eyad Asi worked for Information Management Group (IMG) as an analyst and was assigned by IMG to work on a specific contract at Fort Meade, Maryland.  The contract on which he worked was managed on-site by Absolute Business...
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Maryland Federal Court Finds Employee’s Reassignments Not Adverse Employment Action

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
12/04/2019
The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland recently denied relief to an employee of the Wicomico County Department of Corrections (WDCD) who claimed that she faced unlawful discrimination via several department reassignments and disciplines.  Passwaters v. Wicomico County, No. 1:18-CV-02923 (D. Md. 11/27/19). Passwaters worked as a Correctional Officer for WCDC.  She was promoted to Master Correctional Officer and offered a...
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Eleventh Circuit Finds Employer’s “Not a Team Player” Comment Not Proof of Retaliation

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
11/06/2019
A recent decision out of the Eleventh Circuit demonstrates how easily an employer’s purportedly negative comment made closely in time to an employee’s legally protected activity can form the basis of an allegation that the employer unlawfully retaliated.  Jacomb v. BBVA Compass Bank, No. 18-11536 (11th Cir. 11/4/19) (unpublished). Jacomb was hired as a Senior IT Project Manager for BBVA Compass Bank (BBVA).  A few years later, she...
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“No, Thank You,” is Not Protected Activity

Darrell VanDeusen
Darrell VanDeusen
09/13/2019
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 a dinner offer stated opposition to sexual harassment that qualifies as protected...
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