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Secret Service Employee May Maintain Claim For Retaliation

In order to ensure that employees are not scared to complain about work place discrimination, federal law, including Title VII and other discrimination laws, prohibit retaliation. Not all retaliatory actions are covered, but if you are the victim of any negative action as the result of making a complaint or participating as a witness in someone else’s discrimination case, you may be able to file a retaliation claim.

In a recent case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit determined that a management analyst for the Secret Service could maintain her action for retaliation against the Department of Homeland Security.

In Mogenhan v. Napolitano, a woman who suffered severe migraines filed a discrimination complaint asserting that she received lower employment rating scores based on her sex and disability. Within 20 days of her filing her complaint with the EEOC, Mogenhan’s supervisor, John Machado, placed the complaint on the Secret Service intranet so that everyone could – and did – access the document. He also increased Mogenhan’s workload to five or six times that of other employees. He explained to her that it was to “keep [her] too busy to file complaints.”

The court determined that Mogenhan did not have a claim for disability discrimination, however it held that the actions of Mogenhan’s supervisor could constitute “retaliation.”

Here, the court reasoned that a reasonable jury could find that posting an EEO complaint where everyone could see it could “chill a reasonable employee from further protected activity.” Additionally, the court held that reasonable employees might be dissuaded from filing discrimination complaints if they thought an employer would “retaliate by burying them in work.” Citing with favor Burlington N. & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. White, 548 U.S. 53, 98 FEP Cases 385 (2006), the court noted that an employee need only establish a material adverse action to sustain an action for retaliation. Here, the allegations met this burden.

In many cases, it is easier to win a claim for retaliation than for discrimination. If you honestly believe you or a co-worker were discriminated against and you complain – you don’t have to suffer in silence. The law protects your ability to complain about discrimination and be free from retribution.

For more information or if you believe you have been the victim of discrimination or retaliation contact Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP, LLC, a Georgia Law Firm dedicated to protecting employee’s rights in the workplace.

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