To ensure that employees are not afraid to report workplace discrimination, federal laws such as Title VII and other discrimination laws specifically prohibit retaliation. While not all retaliatory actions are covered, if you experience any negative consequences as a result of making a complaint or participating as a witness in someone else’s discrimination case, you may be eligible to file a retaliation claim.
In a recent case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that a management analyst for the Secret Service could proceed with her retaliation claim against the Department of Homeland Security in Mogenhan v. Napolitano. The plaintiff, who suffered from severe migraines, filed a discrimination complaint alleging lower employment rating scores based on her gender and disability. Within 20 days of filing the complaint with the EEOC, her supervisor, John Machado, published the complaint on the Secret Service intranet, allowing everyone to access it. He also increased her workload to an excessive level, far beyond that of other employees, stating that it was to prevent her from filing further complaints.
The court determined that Mogenhan did not have a claim for disability discrimination but recognized that her supervisor’s actions could be considered “retaliation.” The court reasoned that publicly posting the EEO complaint had the potential to deter a reasonable employee from engaging in further protected activity. It also noted that reasonable employees might be discouraged from reporting discrimination if they believed their employer would retaliate by burdening them with excessive work. Citing the Burlington N. & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. White case, the court highlighted that an employee only needs to establish a material adverse action to support a retaliation claim, which the allegations in this case fulfilled.
In many instances, it is easier to succeed in a retaliation claim than in a discrimination claim. If you genuinely believe that you or a co-worker have experienced discrimination and you choose to speak up, you should not have to endure the consequences in silence. The law safeguards your right to voice complaints about discrimination and protects you from retaliation.
For more information or if you believe you have been a victim of race discrimination or retaliation, please reach out to Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP, a Georgia law firm dedicated to safeguarding employee rights in the workplace.