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Federal law and state anti-discrimination laws forbid companies from retaliating against any individual who opposes unlawful employment practices, or who participates in governmental investigations of Title VII claims or state law claims. This means that an employee who makes an employment-related claim or who assists investigators who are working on an employment claim cannot be mistreated on the basis of that participation. A Michigan employment attorney can advise you if you have been retaliated against for participating in an investigation.

What Is an Adverse Employment Action?

One of the key issues in a retaliation case is whether the employee has suffered an adverse employment action. What constitutes an adverse employment action, however, is not always clear. A Michigan employment attorney can advise you about whether your case involves an adverse employment action. One question is whether employer conduct that is not as severe as an ultimate employment decision (meaning a failure to hire, a demotion, or termination) could constitute an adverse employment action. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that it could, and that the anti-retaliation provision of Title VII was not simply limited to ultimate employment decisions; rather, it also covered any employer actions that would be materially adverse to an employee or applicant.

The Court held that, although Title VII is not so draconian that it would create a federal employment case if an employee has merely encountered normally petty slights, minor annoyances, and simple lack of good manners, the Court held that retaliation claims often require a factually intensive analysis depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. The court explained that the standard is more general because the significance of any given act of retaliation will often depend upon the particular circumstances.

Context matters


  • A schedule change in an employees work schedule may make little difference to many workers but may matter enormously to a young mother with school-age children.
  • A supervisors refusal to invite an employee to lunch is normally trivial, a no actionable petty slight. But to retaliate by excluding an employee from a weekly training lunch that contributes significantly to the employee's professional advancement might well deter a reasonable employee from complaining about discrimination.


Contact Us

If you have suffered from retaliation or discriminatory treatment in the workplace, contact a Michigan employment attorney at the Law Offices of Christopher Trainor & Associates by calling 800-961-8477.


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