In a recent case interpreting just what constitutes actionable
retaliation as set forth in Thompson v. North am. Stainless LP, the U.S. District
Court for the District of Columbia concluded that threats made by a Muslim
firefighter’s supervisors could also be intended as a serious threat
to the firefighter’s co-worker/close friend and as a result, constitute
a viable claim for retaliation under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Title VII and other
employment discrimination laws prohibit retaliation in the workplace. If you experience retaliation in
the workplace, you may be entitled to the same remedies as you have in
any other discrimination case. Retaliation doesn’t only mean that
you have been discharged for making a complaint. The Supreme Court has
defined retaliation broadly including any actions or conduct by an employer
that would deter reasonable people from pursuing their rights. This has
been extended to include actions by your employer not only against you
but also a family or close friend.
Ali v. District of Columbia, Ali and a fellow firefighter, Craig, were late in appearing for a drill.
Ali explained that they were late because they were praying. The two men
were then ordered to prepare special reports explaining their slow response
time. Craig was told he had to make a choice between “his job and
his religion.” Ali subsequently complained, calling the statement
“out of line.” Ali was also told that if he pursued his complaint,
members of the fire company, including Craig, would be disciplined. Ali
then agreed to withdraw hisreligious discrimination complaint in order to avoid Craig facing termination or discipline.
A few months later, the department’s diversity/EEO program manager
concluded the supervisor required corrective action, noting that while
unrealized threats may not constitute an adverse action in Title VII discrimination,
they can be materially adverse for Title VII retaliation purposes. Here,
the fact that Ali withdrew his report because he had no desire to have
Craig disciplined, was sufficient to state a claim for retaliation. The
court noted that although differences existed between this case and Thompson,
the connection between the threat and the protected activity was obvious.
As a result, Ali could maintain a claim for retaliation.
If you believe you have been discriminated against but fear coming forward
because a close friend or co-worker may suffer adverse employment action,
and you may have a claim for retaliation. Remember, retaliation claims
may be easier to bring and win than straight discrimination claims. Speaking
to an experienced
Atlanta retaliation law firm can provide you crucial insights and determine your next steps.
You shouldn’t have to fear speaking up for your rights at work. Discrimination
laws are in place to protect you from harassment, discrimination and retaliation.
For more information contact the dedicated
Georgia worker’s rights lawyers at The Buckley Law Firm, LLC for a confidential consultation.