A jury recently awarded a former Kansas City Health Department employee more than three million dollars in her retaliation lawsuit against the city – her second lawsuit.
The plaintiff, who worked for the department for approximately one year, initially sued the city for unfair treatment after she was selected for a random drug test. Then, she was terminated because she could not complete the test because of a medical condition.
During her first lawsuit, she had applied for another position with the city. The city refused to hire her, even though she was the most qualified candidate, according to one of her lawyers. City employees allegedly subjected the plaintiff to intimidation and told her to drop her first lawsuit if she wanted the job. She was awarded $172,000 for suffering discriminatory treatment based on race in October 2017 in that case. Matti Gellman "'I persisted': Former employee sued Kansas City for retaliation. A jury awarded her millions" www.yahoo.com (Jun. 02, 2023).
Title VII prohibits retaliation against those who engage in "protected activity" - file charges, or lawsuits, or who participate in investigations of workplace discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.
Employers increase their exposure exponentially when they take negative employment action against an employee or former employee who is suing them. A jury will likely view that negative action on top of the discrimination or harassment alleged in the initial lawsuit as proof that the employer committed wrongdoing.
A negative employment action is any action that affects the terms and conditions of employment, including:
· Assigning work
· Measuring performance, or
· Providing benefits.