Fact or Fiction: Courts recognize retaliation against ex-employees

Thumbnail image for ffiction.pngThat’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”. So, let’s get right to today’s question:

Let’s say I have a former employee who files a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. If a potential new employer comes calling from a job reference and I…

    1. give my former employee a bad reference;
    2. to get back at the employee for filing the charge; and,
    3. because of my bad reference, the former employee is not hired…

    Have I engaged in actionable post-employment retaliation?


    You bet I have! So, the answer to today’s QATQQ is “FACT”.

    Consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Robinson v. Shell Oil Co., here in the Third Circuit (PA, NJ, DE, USVI) post-employment retaliation is bad, bad, bad. In this Third Circuit decision, the court held that “an ex-employee may file a retaliation action against a previous employer for retaliatory conduct occurring after the end of the employment relationship when the retaliatory act is in reprisal for a protected act and arises out of or is related to the employment relationship.” ¬†Many state courts are on boards with this too (For example, check out¬†this case from the NJ Supreme Court). A former employer engages in retaliation where its action results in discharge from a later job, a refusal to hire the plaintiff, or other professional or occupational harm. In essence, post-employment retaliation must involve some harm to an employee’s employment opportunities.