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Tips on how Denver employers can avoid EEOC claims of retaliation

Once an employee files an internal or EEOC claim of discrimination he or she may worry about retaliation from his or her employer. And, once a claim of employment discrimination is filed, every action taken by a supervisor or human resources personnel will be closely reviewed so it is important for employers to be aware of this while still being able to enforce the rules of conduct they expect each of their employees to follow.

Denver employers may be interested in a recent case involving a University of California database manager with a physical disability. The employee had a sight impairment that prevented his having peripheral vision. One and a half years into the job the employee had been demoted because a supervisor said he was unable to perform his job. This demotion required him to work under a new supervisor.

The employee filed a complaint both internally and with the EEOC claiming he had been discriminated against because of his disability and national origin. He simply did not get along with his new supervisor, who almost immediately began criticizing his attendance. Following this, the employee began sending his supervisor emails criticizing her work as well as her criticism of his work. After an initial meeting to discuss these issues, the employee took a week off for medical reasons, saying he did not feel well.

Upon his return back to work, the employee received a memo stating he needed to accept the new position and the new supervisor. Things progressively got worse and over a series of run-ins with his supervisor the employee was terminated.

The employee then sued the University claiming he was discriminated and retaliated against for filing his earlier complaints. The university countered his claims stating he had been fired for legitimate reasons, including rudeness, insubordination and disrespect of his supervisors. The court ruled in favor of the University stating it applied the same rules to this employee that it applied to all its other employees.

There was no evidence that the employee had been singled out for retaliation in any way and the wrongful termination case was dismissed. The important lesson in this case is that the employer did everything right. The same manager who had hired the employee, also made the final decision to terminate the employee.

Source: Business Management Daily, "Employee has complained about discrimination? He still has to follow all legitimate rules," April 22, 2012

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