Federal Court Determines Anti-Retaliations Laws Protect Federal Employees In Diggs v. HUD

A recent case determined that a fired federal employee could bring a claim of retaliation against a federal employer. The decision was the result of the court’s review of Diggs v. HUD, a “mixed case” based on both retaliation and employment discrimination. Although the court determined it lacked proper jurisdiction to decide this case, it was significant in determining that Title VII prohibits retaliation in federal employment.

A mixed case is one that includes both a claim of some form of employment discrimination – here sex discrimination – and an adverse action. In the present case, the adverse action was Diggs’ termination. If you believe you have been subject to any form of discrimination or have been retaliated against after complaining of discrimination, it is important to speak to a knowledgeable Atlanta employment discrimination lawyer to evaluate your claim and determine your next steps.

Here, an employee of HUD, Diggs, was terminated based on misconduct charges including the following: 1) Rude, disruptive, aggressive or intimidating behavior; and 2) Misrepresentation. As a defense to the misconduct charges filed against Diggs, Diggs claimed that she was actually fired because she had previously filed a sex bias claim. A sex bias claim is based on the assertion that an employer has discriminated against you “because of” your sex. Title VII prohibits taking adverse actions such as termination, failure to promote and suspensions because of your gender. Additionally Title VII prohibits retaliation if you complain about discrimination. This is intended to protect employees so that they are not afraid of complaining about work place discrimination, or helping others who file complaints. Prohibited retaliation includes actions such as being demoted, terminated, moved to a worse location or given worse hours. However, the Supreme Court has not expressly ruled on whether the ban on retaliation applies to public-sector employers.

In evaluating whether Title VII bans retaliation in federal employment as in private employment, the Federal Circuit determined that when Congress broadly drafted provisions preventing ‘any discrimination’ it intended to bar the government from “engaging in, among other practices applicable to employers, retaliation against an employee who complains of illegal discrimination.”

This decision is important because it determined that Title VII prohibits retaliation in federal employment, not just private employment.

For more information or if you believe you have been subjected to any form of employment discrimination or retaliation, contact the experienced Atlanta employment lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for a confidential case evaluation.