Dallas, Texas (WiredPRNews.com Press Release) — On February 5, 2009, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for an employer in a retaliation matter. Holloway v. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, No. 08-20212 (5th Cir. 2009), available at http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/unpub/08/08-20212.0.wpd.pdf. Warren Holloway worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs. In 1997, he filed several complaints against his employer, alleging racial discrimination and retaliation. In 2000, he was discharged.
Holloway sued. After the trial court entered summary judgment against Holloway, he appealed, arguing that the trial court wrongly decided that his supervisor’s comment to two co-workers in 1998 (that Holloway was “creating problems by filing EEO complaints”) did not constitute retaliation.
An employee alleging retaliation must demonstrate that: (1) the employee participated in an activity protected by anti-discrimination laws; (2) the employer took an adverse employment action against the employee; and (3) a causal connection exists between the protected activity and the materially adverse action. Here, the parties disputed whether the supervisor’s statement constituted a materially adverse action.
The Court found the statement insufficient to constitute a materially adverse action. The Court determined that the single, non-threatening statement did not create a situation so unbearable that a reasonable employee would have been dissuaded from making or supporting a discrimination claim and that no adverse consequences occurred immediately thereafter. The Court thus affirmed summary judgment for the employer.
If you would like to speak to an employment law attorney about a discrimination or retaliation claim, contact the employment lawyers at Clouse Dunn Khoshbin LLP at [email protected]