Labor: Federal Appeals Court Says Employer Not Liable for Minor Workplace Slights

A recent decision from the U. S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit striking down an employee's retaliation claims as insufficient under federal law should provide some solace for employers. According to the appellate court's May ruling in Morales Morales-Vallellanes v. Potter, minor disruptions in the plaintiff's assigned workplace tasks and other trivial incidents could not sustain his Title VII retaliation claims.

The plaintiff in Morales filed several Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaints against his employer, the United States Postal Service (USPS), and later sued USPS for, among other things, unlawful retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to the plaintiff, USPS discriminated and retaliated against him by temporarily reassigning his back-office "distribution" duties to a female co-worker and giving him "window" duties to perform. The plaintiff further alleged that when he expressed interest in bidding for a particular position expected to include Saturdays and Sundays off, USPS reclassified the position with Thursdays and Sundays off instead. He also claimed USPS discriminated and retaliated against him by allowing certain female employees to take longer coffee-breaks.

Vincent Cino

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