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This is not legal advice, which can only be given by an attorney admitted to practice law in your jurisdiction after hearing all of the facts and circumstances in a particular case.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Employer investigating falsity of discrimination charge not guilty of retaliation against employees

Normally, a employee who is subjected to an investigation because he or she reported discrimination has a pretty good claim for illegal retaliation. But in this case, the Second Circuit federal Court of Appeals (covering NY, CT and VT federal courts) says there's no retaliation.  

In this case, the employees reported, in their complaint to the EEOC for race discrimination, that, among other things, they were confronted by  officers of a different race, who apparently accused them of racially-motivated conduct.  In their internal report to the employer, however, they left out this detail. The employer, a law enforcement agency with obvious skills in investigation, then conducted an investigation of the complaining officers, finding that their EEOC complaint was false because of the omitted details. 
The Court of Appeals said the employer was justified in investigating the discrepancy between the internal harassment complaint and the more provocative EEOC charge arising from the same event. If the employer has a solid justification for investigating the plaintiffs, then the employer wins. The Court bounced this case out of court partly because of the special status of the employer as a law enforcement agency, noting that law enforcement officials are required to file reports accurately, and thus the employer has a greater interest in disciplining officers who do not take that obligation seriously than do most employers.


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