Court Expands Right Of Workers To Sue Over Retaliation
The U.S. Supreme Court recently made it easier for workers in most parts of the country to sue employers for retaliating against them when they complain about sexual harassment or other discrimination, according to a Washington Post article. The court ruled in Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Co. v. White , No. 05-259, that employees may collect damages, even in some cases where the punishment did not involve getting fired or losing wages.
The decision, which had the full support of eight justices and a concurring opinion by the ninth, expands the legal rights of millions of workers who are covered by the main federal law against job discrimination.
In the case, forklift operator Sheila White had won $43,500 in damages and medical expenses from a federal jury, which found that her boss responded to her complaints about co-workers' sexual harassment by transferring her to a more arduous job and suspending her for 37 days without pay.
She was later reinstated and awarded back pay, and Burlington Northern argued in the Supreme Court that this ending should have negated her retaliation suit. But the court found under the circumstances, the railroad's actions would have been enough to deter a reasonable employee from making a charge in the first place. To read the article, click here.
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