In order to bring a successful employment retaliation claim in court, you must establish certain elements. Specifically, you must be able to show that you engaged in protected activity, such as filing an EEOC charge or complaining of employment discrimination. You must also show that your employer took adverse action against you in retaliation for that protected activity. There are many cases that address the specific type of conduct that can be considered an adverse employment action, as not every action taken against you will qualify. In a very recent case, the district court addressed adverse actions taken after the employee was terminated.
In the case Shakerdge v. Tradition Financial Services, Inc., the employee, an energy commodities broker, complained of sexual and racial harassment. Her allegations included male employees openly viewing pornography on their work computers and making offensive comments. The CEO of the company allegedly tried to whip her with a riding crop used for horseback riding. She was ultimately terminated and filed an EEOC charge for hostile work environment, wrongful termination, and retaliation.
Interference with future employment opportunities
After her termination, Shakerdge started interviewing for similar positions with other brokerage firms. She was offered a position by one particular firm which sent her all of the new hire paperwork, including an employment agreement. She was registered with the government as a broker at their firm and provided other employee benefits. However, after her first day at work, she was notified by HR by text message that her employment offer was rescinded and she was not to come back to work. Afterwards, Shakerdge was told by another broker at that firm that he heard her job offer was withdrawn because of her legal claims against her former employer. Additional retaliation claims were added to her lawsuit based on her prior employer’s apparent interference with her future job opportunity.
Retaliation claim for interference was allowed to proceed
As expected, the former employer moved to have her new retaliation claims dismissed because, they argued, she did not show exactly what the employer did to cause the withdrawal of the subsequent job offer. The court denied the motion, holding that the employee had presented “some minimal evidence suggesting an inference that the employer acted with discriminatory motivation.”
Specifically, the court cited various post-employment actions which courts have routinely recognized as retaliatory, such as providing a negative reference, refusing to provide a reference, or blacklisting a former employee by sullying their reputation within their industry. The court found that, in Shakerdge’s case, her former employer encouraged her new employer to terminate her, as well as attempted to blacklist her with other employers in the industry.
If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination or retaliation in the workplace, or if you have any other questions regarding your employment rights, please contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Wrady & Michel, LLC. You can contact us either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880. We are here to serve you!