The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has just reinstated a $500,000 retaliation verdict against MARTA. The retaliation lawsuit was filed after a man was allegedly fired for telling his supervisor he was going to file a race discrimination case.
In order to protect individuals from discrimination in the work place, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who complain about discrimination – even if the workers may not be to affirmatively prove such discrimination occurred. This means that if you can show that you reasonably believed that you were discriminated against and then subjected to an adverse action, you may be able to recover damages in a retaliation case.
In the recent matter, argued on appeal by Attorney Steven Wolfe of Atlanta’s Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP, a white MARTA worker, complained that his supervisor, who is African-American, subjected him to race discrimination. Evidence was introduced that she referred to herself as a “mean black bitch” and socialized with black employees. The plaintiff asserted that he was fired after he complained to her that she was “railroading” him.
A jury determined that MARTA was guilty of retaliation and awarded a $500,000 verdict. However because the verdict was split – the supervisor was not found liable – the court set aside the award as “inconsistent.” On successful appeal, the 11th Circuit Court determined that an inconsistent verdict was not a proper basis to set aside the award. As such, it reinstated the verdict against MARTA, finding the employer liable for retaliating against the employee for complaining about discrimination.
Wolfe commented, “We’re obviously very pleased to have the verdict reinstated” and noted that the plaintiff has not yet determined whether he will continue to pursue the underlying racial discrimination claim.
This case serves as an important reminder that if you believe that you have been discriminated against, employment laws protect your right to speak up. In order to help rid the work place of discrimination, Title VII prohibits retaliation, providing for damages if you suffer negative consequences as a result of your complaint.
For more information, or if you believe you have suffered any form of employment discrimination, please contact the experienced and compassionate employment discrimination attorneys at the Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate, confidential case evaluation.