Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway v. White - U.S. Supreme Court - June 22, 2006http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/05pdf/05-259.pdf
In what one of the plaintiff's lawyers called an "exceptionally important decision," the court held 9-0 that a person pursuing an anti-retaliation claim under Title VII, 42 U.S.C . sec.. 2000e-2(a),against an employer need only prove a "materially adverse" employment action that "might have dissuaded a reasonable worker" from complaining about discrimination. The anti-retaliation provision protects an employee who has made a charge, testified, assisted orparticipated in a Title VII proceeding or investigation, sec. 2000e-3(a).
The court rejected the employer's claim that retaliation should only include actions that affect an employee's compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment. The court found that the anti-retaliation provision was broader that the anti-discrimination provision and is "not limited to discriminatory actions that affect the terms and conditions of employment," holding that Congress wanted to "deter the many forms that effective retaliation can take" in the workplace and beyond.
The court said the context and common sense matter and that it was not imposing a "general civility code" on the workplace. Rather, the court's decision and standard would "screen out trivial conduct while effectively capturing those acts that are likely to dissuade employees from complaining."
This new standard was applied in Walsh v. Irvin Stern's Costumes, Inc.
- ED Pa. - 8-15-06http://www.paed.uscourts.gov/documents/opinions/06D1024P.pdf