Supreme Court Rules in Worker Retaliation Case

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday that employers cannot fire workers in retaliation for cooperating in investigations of sexual harassment under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The case, Crawford v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (see PDF), involved Vicky Crawford, an employee who had worked for a Tennessee school system for thirty years when she was dismissed after participating in an internal sexual harassment investigation.

In the court’s opinion, Justice David Souter wrote that “nothing in the statute requires a freakish rule protecting an employee who reports discrimination on her own initiative but not one who reports the same discrimination in the same words when her boss asks a question.”

Crawford’s attorney, Ann Steiner, told the Associated Press that the ruleing “means from this point on no matter who instigates an investigation or conversation about harassment, if someone communicates that they’ve been harassed, they’ll be protected under the retaliation provisions” of Title VII.


Legal Newsline 1/27/09; Associated Press 1/27/09; Supreme Court 1/26/09

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