Articles Posted in Retaliation

Last year, I channelled Bill Clinton in this blog post about how courts rarely recognize a single incident or two as creating what the law deems a hostile work environment.

Yeah, about that.

Even a few isolated comments can create a hostile work environment.

In Boyer-Liberto v. Fontainebleu Corp. (opinion here), the full panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that two aggressive racial slurs made to an employee within a 24-hour period, may create a hostile work environment. (Here, the plaintiff, who is African-American, was twice called a “porch monkey.” And, each time, the harasser threatened the plaintiff).

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Folks, let me give you a little free Friday HR pro tip:

If a female employee complains to a female manager that another male manager is sexually harassing her, it’s not ok to for the female manager to respond thusly,

“He’s a guy and you work with guys. Ignore it and smile.”

That’s bad. Worse than pooping on a warehouse floor. (Even worse with the music I selected)
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When I think about retaliation, I think about that time I plastic-wrapped the judicial toilets after losing a motion to compel an employee who gets fired after complaining about discrimination to an HR Manager or the EEOC. These actions epitomize the “opposition” and the “participation” clauses of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal anti-discrimination statute.

By what about when an employee doesn’t go to HR, doesn’t complain to the EEOC, but, instead, simply tells a supervisor to stop sexually harassing her? If that employee is later fired, and she can establish that she was fired because she told her supervisor to stop, is that a winning retaliation claim? Continue reading

Geez! What’s gotten into me this week? Even by The Employer Handbook editorial standards, which are lower than Title VII’s religious accommodation undue hardship test.

[I’ll be here all week. Sorry.]

First, a 1000+ word blog post on ADA telework, followed by two cheeky posts on bad interview questions and the FMLA. So, naturally, this builds up to a Thursday post about oral.

As I resist every urge to cheapen this further by resorting to silly puns and other double entendre, allow me to set the stage for you: Continue reading

Not exactly a happy workplace trinity, but it’s what fuels The Employer Handbook. That and Jolt-Cola Bombs.

The plaintiff  in this case claimed that she was sexually harassed by her male supervisor for over a year. The court’s opinion details alleged comments and groping in vivid detail.  (No recap here. I plan to keep my post PG, damn it! Ok, PG-13. You happy, now?). Whenever the plaintiff supposedly complained, her employer did nothing about the harassment.

So, finally, she decked him one.

That got the employer to take notice. Indeed, it determined that the plaintiff had been sexually harassed and it fired her harasser. Then, the company also fired the plaintiff.
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“I see your ‘two free slurs’ rule, Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and I raise you one shout out to the Third Reich, alright Hoss?”

Ok, you got me.

The Fifth Circuit, which covers Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, didn’t actually use those words, exactly. But, what the Court did say in this opinion, was that an employee who complained to Human Resources about a Deputy Director, one who allegedly said “Heil Hitler,” could not reasonably believe that this single comment created a hostile work environment. Got that? When a manager allegedly praises the Nazis one time, that’s not against the law:

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What the hell are you talking about, Eric? Why would we make an independent contractor sign a release of employment claims before starting work for our company?

So glad you asked. Although, I’m not sure I like your tone.

*** takes pills ***

Many years ago, Allstate Insurance restructured its business, where it decided to longer have employees; only independent contractors. So, it offered its employees a bunch of options. One option was a severance; another was the ability to convert to independent contractor status. Either way, the individual had to release all past and presented employment-related claims agains the company.

When the EEOC got wind of the conversion option, they cried retaliation.

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Fact or Fiction?That’s right folks. It’s time for another edition of “Fact or Fiction” a/k/a “Quick Answers to Quick Questions” a/k/a QATQQ f/k/a “I don’t feel like writing a long blog post.”

Oh, if I had a nickel for every time I got this question from an employer, “Hey Eric. We have this pregnant employee and she is very close to term. We’re concerned that if she continues working all the way up to childbirth, she may harm herself or the fetus. Can we require her to stay home?”

Eek! Check out this recent press release from the EEOC in which the agency announced that it is suing an employer, which allegedly required a pregnant employee to take unpaid leave until she was cleared by a doctor indicating that she could work despite her pregnancy. The EEOC further alleges, when the employee failed to provide a release, and after she and her mother disputed the legality of the requirement, the employee was fired in retaliation.

So, under federal anti-discrimination law, the answer to today’s QATQQ is, generally, fiction.

NoteA United States Supreme Court majority opinion predicted that Title VII, which contains the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, would preempt state law, thereby absolving employers that complied with Title VII from liability for any fetal injury. (Although the concurrence was more skeptical). Further, that same case recognized a narrow safety exception that would allow an employer to remove a pregnant employee from the workplace; namely, in instances in which pregnancy actually interferes with the employee’s ability to perform the job.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0IUR4gkPIE

About a year ago, I blogged here about a dreadful Sixth Circuit opinion, in which the court concluded that the plaintiff may have a discrimination claim for receiving the specific transfer he requested (after having interviewed for the position).

Now, if you read the comments on my post, you’ll see that some of my readers took issue with my analysis of the case.

Well, I see your comments and raise you a scathing Justice Alito dissent from the United States Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari:

The decision of the Sixth Circuit in this case–holding that respondent suffered an adverse employment action when his employer transferred him to a position for which he had applied–qualifies for review under that standard. Indeed, the holding of the court below is so clearly wrong that summary reversal is warranted. The strangeness of the Court of Appeals’ holding may lead this Court to believe that the holding is unlikely to figure in future cases, but the decision, if left undisturbed, will stand as a binding precedent within the Sixth Circuit….The decision of the court below is unprecedented and clearly contrary to the statutes on which respondent’s claims are based.

#TeamAlito

Or, at least, when you honestly believe that one of your employees is masturbating in the parking lot.

(Unless, of course, you’re like by buddy Fred, who operates Parking Lot Self-Gratification, LLC).

Let’s just pretend that parenthetical remained in my head, ok?

After the jump, it’s a lesson on the law of retaliation involving the case of a school district employee who was fired for allegedly masturbating in a car…in the school parking lot…during school hours. And he claimed that his firing was retaliatory in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

Allow that to sink in for a sec, then hit jump while I kiss the head of my golden blogging statuette and rub her belly…

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