Thursday, January 21, 2016

Have You Been Written-Up After Complaining of Discrimination?

Many employers have learned that before terminating someone, they should create a paper trail of so-called performance issues. However, just because you have write-ups or negative evaluations does not automatically mean that your employer has the right to terminate you. If you complained of discrimination or harassment before the negative reviews or write-ups, you may still have a retaliation claim. This is what occurred in the case of Smith v. Mayo in Minnesota, where the employee was put on a performance improvement plan (PIP) and written-up for attendance issues after complaining of race discrimination. The Court found that even though the employer had documentation of alleged performance problems, the timing of the PIP and write-ups, coming after the discrimination complaint, allowed the employee to go forward with her claims. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

U.S. District Court for D.C. Holds That a Reduction in Responsibilities Can Be Retaliatory

In the case of Pitts v. Howard University the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia held that an employee's allegation that he was retaliated against by having his responsibilities curtailed, and having his number of direct reports reduced by 80%, was a materially adverse employment action which could support a retaliation claim. The employee had filed an internal complaint of discrimination, and approximately five months later he was removed from his assistant treasurer position and placed in the position of payroll and budget officer. He went from supervising 26 employees to overseeing four employees. While Howard University argued that the reassignment did not meet the legal definition of retaliation because it did not allege any changes to the terms and conditions of his employment, the Court disagreed, and found that a reassignment with significantly different responsibilities was retaliatory. 

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