Employment Discrimination Law
3rd Category: Laws
prohibiting retaliation against employees who assert their rights under employment
An employer cannot retaliate against an employee
who participates in an employment discrimination claim or who opposes a discriminatory
For example, let's assume an employee believes
that she was denied a promotion based on her gender. She files an administrative charge
with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging gender discrimination. The
EEOC then notifies her employer that a charge of discrimination has been filed against it.
The employer then terminates the employee because she filed the EEOC charge. Federal
employment discrimination laws prohibit an employer from doing this.
Next, let's assume the same example, except that
the employee does not file an administrative charge, she just complains to her supervisor
that she has been a victim of gender discrimination. The employer then terminates the
employee. Federal employment discrimination laws also prohibit an employer from doing
Finally, let's assume
that a male employee thinks a female co-worker is being harassed by
their supervisor. The male employee complains and is terminated
for complaining. He can sue under Title VII for retaliation even though
he was not the person being harassed.
In Hernandez v. Spacelabs Medical
Inc., 343 F.3d 1107 (9th Cir. 2003), Hernandez alleged that he was
terminated in retaliation for complaining that his supervisor, Ron Pray,
was sexually harassing a female co-worker. Hernandez presented
sufficient circumstantial evidence that Pray knew Hernandez was the
employee who had made the complaint of sexual harassment. Next,
Spacelabs argues that Pray was not the ultimate decisionmaker, but
Hernandez presented sufficient evidence that those decisionmakers were
relying on Pray's recommendation (as opposed to conducting their own
independent investigation). Next, Hernandez presented sufficient
evidence that Spacelabs' proffered reason for his termination was a
pretext for retaliation.