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Title VII: Retaliation by Employers

What is Title VII?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination from employers.  Title VII prohibits discrimination “with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e-3

Title VII: Retaliation by EmployersWhat is Retaliation?

Retaliation is one of the most commonly reported issues alleged by employees against employers.

“It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against any of his employees . . . . because [the employee] has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation…” for Title VII violations. Id.

How can businesses be mindful of retaliation during the employee termination process?

It is important to note that any negative change in behavior toward an employee can possibly lead to a finding of retaliation.  In order to prevent retaliation, an employer should:

  1. Preserve confidentiality of allegations
  2. Be proactive in providing accurate and clear information to the judge or investigative unit
  3. Do not isolate the employee
  4. Maintain benefits or information for the employee if other employees in similar positions have access to them
  5. Provide training to other managers to prevent retaliation

Does this mean that if a an employee files a complaint about discrimination that they can never be terminated?

No, filing a complaint does not protect an employee from termination.  Furthermore, an employer can terminate an employee as long as the termination is not retaliatory and not discriminatory.  Thus, an employer can terminate an employee for reasons that would normally result in termination.  On the contrary, employers cannot do anything in response to filing a discrimination complaint that would deter individuals from filing such complaints in the future.

If you are an employer and have questions about proper termination procedures please contact us.  Similarly, if you have questions or concerns about employment discrimination proceedings we recommend contacting an experienced attorney.

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