Company retaliates against worker for making complaints about supervisor

    Company retaliates against worker for making complaints about supervisor

    main pointing downThis case involves a man who worked for a parcel delivery company since 1985. The man started out as a driver for the company and later received several promotions. He eventually became a division manager. The man’s supervisor was very strict about completing work  objectives and constantly demanded results from his employees. The man heard his supervisor and several other high-level managers making obscene and offensive comments about some female employees of the company. He also witnessed his supervisor engage in flirtatious behavior with a female employee. The man approached his supervisor about this and complained to him about the comments and the behavior. He also sent a letter to the human resources department of the company complaining about his supervisor’s comments and his behavior toward female employees. The man was later demoted from his managerial position to a lower position as a supervisor at the company. The man claimed that his demotion was solely based on the fact that he had reported his supervisor’s behavior to the company’s management.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • If an employee reports discriminatory behavior of a supervisor and the employee is later demoted, is this retaliation?

    Expert Witness Response

    Most companies like the one in this case have a Code of Business Conduct that prohibits certain types of workplace behavior. This type of Code usually encourages employees who witness improper or discriminatory behavior of a fellow employee to report this conduct to the company’s management. This type of Code also usually includes a provision that states that employees who report improper conduct of another employee are not allowed to be retaliated against or fired for reporting this conduct. Many states have a Law Against Discrimination which makes it illegal for an employer to demote an employee for reporting discriminatory conduct. Federal law also protects employees from retaliation by an employer after they make complaints about witnessing workplace discrimination or harassment. Usually these laws require that to prove a case of retaliation, an employee must show that they engaged in protected activity, that their employer took an adverse action, and that there was a direct connection between the protected activity and the adverse action. In this case, the man’s complaints to human resources about the discriminatory comments of his supervisor probably constituted a protected activity. Since the man may have been demoted just for making these complaints, there probably was a direct connection between his demotion and his making the complaints. This means that the employer’s decision to demote the man was probably a case of retaliation.

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