Georgia Woman’s Retaliatory Discharge Case Against Employer Her Fired Her Husband is Dismissed on Summary Judgment

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a worker because he or she has opposed an unlawful employment practice. (An employer is also prohibited from discrimination in retaliation for a worker’s formal charge or participation in the investigation of an allegedly unlawful employment practice).

In many Atlanta retaliatory discharge cases, the employer is quick to file a motion alleging that the plaintiff cannot provide adequate evidence to support his or her claim. In order to survive such a motion, the plaintiff must be able to show that he or she participated in an activity that was protected by law, that there was a materially adverse employment action against him or her, and that there was a causal connection between the activity and the adverse action.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent employment law case was a woman who was terminated from the defendant company’s employment in 2017. She filed multiple charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and was issued a notice of suit rights a few months thereafter. The gravamen of the plaintiff’s complaint was that the defendant had fired her in retaliation for her husband reporting that the defendant had allegedly discriminated against an attractive female job applicant who came into the defendant’s office in what some workers characterized as unprofessional attire. (The plaintiff’s husband was also employed by the defendant employer during the relevant time period.)

The defendant filed a motion seeking summary judgment on the basis that the plaintiff had not established that her husband had participated in a statutorily protected activity.

The Court’s Ruling

The United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Valdosta Division, granted the defendant’s motion and dismissed the plaintiff’s case with prejudice. While the plaintiff fell within the “zone of interests” insomuch as she was the spouse of someone who had allegedly engaged in protected conduct, the court found that her claim failed because she was not able to show that her husband opposed an unlawful employment practice by the defendant employer. In so holding, the court pointed out that, in a separate case, the court had concluded that the plaintiff’s husband had failed to meet his burden of showing that his objection to allegedly discriminatory conduct by the defendant concerning the employment applicant was objectively reasonable. Because she could not show that her husband had been retaliated against by the defendant, the plaintiff’s claim likewise failed.

Get Advice About an Atlanta Employment Discrimination Case

An employee should not be fired or otherwise retaliated against simply because he or she attempts to stand up for what is right. If your employer has made an adverse employment decision against you (terminated your employment, refused to promote you, demoted you, etc.), you may have a claim for unlawful employment retaliation. To schedule an appointment to discuss your case, please call the experienced Atlanta retaliatory discharge attorneys at Parks, Chesin & Walbert today at 404-873-8048. It is important that you call as soon as possible, as there are filing deadlines in these types of cases, and claims not filed on time are usually dismissed without consideration of their merits.

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