Supreme Court's Rulings Protect Workers from Employer Retaliation

The Supreme Court this week handed down a pair of rulings upholding the rights of employees who charge age and race discrimination, forbidding employers from retaliating when workers complain about such discrimination. In the age case, Gomez-Perez v. Potter, the court ruled for Myrna Gomez-Perez, a U.S. Postal Service worker who alleged that she was subjected to retaliation, including having her supervisor make accusations against her, after filing an age-discrimination complaint. The Postal Service argued that the age-discrimination law covering federal workers did not prohibit retaliation, but the court concluded, in a 6-to-3 vote, that Congress intended to protect workers in such positions as Gomez-Perez from retaliation.

In the race case, CBOCS West Inc. v. Humphries, the court ruled 7 to 2 in favor of Hedrick Humphries, a black employee of a Cracker Barrel restaurant. Humphries said he was dismissed for complaining to managers when another black worker was fired, allegedly for race-based reasons. The issue was whether a post-Civil War-era law he sued under, widely known as Section 1981, bars retaliation. The court's majority relied on a previous decision holding that a similar statute covers retaliation claims.

Although the statutes involved in the two cases did not expressly provide for retaliation claims, the court recognized in both decisions handed down May 27 that protection against retaliation is essential to the vigorous enforcement of the nation's civil rights laws. The court also noted that its decisions were consistent with a long line of prior decisions interpreting other, related civil rights statutes. Steven R. Shapiro, national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the decisions "are appropriately grounded in the realities of the workplace. Workers who fear retaliation are far less likely to report discrimination. Congress understood as much when it passed laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on race and age. By acknowledging that fact in its decisions [Tuesday], the court has protected workers and respected congressional intent."

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Get the Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    OSHA’s Form 300A posting deadline is February 1! Are you prepared? To help answer your key recordkeeping questions, IndustrySafe put together this guide with critical compliance information.

  • Steps to Conduct a JSA

    We've put together a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you perform a job safety analysis (JSA), which includes a pre-built, JSA checklist and template, steps of a JSA, list of potential job hazards, and an overview of hazard control hierarchy.

  • Everything You Need to Know about Incident investigations

    Need some tips for conducting an incident investigation at work after there’s been an occupational injury or illness, or maybe even a near miss? This guide presents a comprehensive overview of methods of performing incident investigations to lead you through your next steps.

  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Industry Safe

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - January February 2021

    January February 2021

    Featuring:

    • TRAINING: SOFTWARE
      Tips for Choosing the Best Training Software
    • COMBUSTIBLE DUST
      Assessing the Dangers of Dust Explosions
    • HAND PROTECTION
      Pushing the Boundaries of Hand Protection
    • FOOT PROTECTION
      Getting a Grip on Slip Resistance
    View This Issue