For years most courts have held that an employee must show some tangible adverse harm before s/he can challenge a management action as being discriminatory, e.g., a termination, loss of overtime, denied promotion, etc. Rightly, they did not want employees launching EEO cases over petty slights or minor annoyances, but there was a lot of disagreement over what was petty and what was not, particularly involving management transfer, reassignment, detail, and training decisions where the employee did not lose money, benefits, or status. But, on June 3, 2022 the D.C. Circuit narrowed the definition of what is to be considered petty when it decided by a 7 to 4 vote that a female employee denied a transfer commonly given to male co-workers could file a discrimination claim even though she did not show tangible harm to salary, benefits or status. (See Mary. E. Chambers, v. District of Columbia, No. 19- 7098 (Rehearing En Banc)).  It wrote,

In our view, we ought to read Title VII to mean what it says—that it prohibits any “discriminat[ion] against [an] individual with respect to . . . terms, conditions, or privileges of employment,” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1), even if that that discrimination is “garden     variety.” This saves courts the trouble of administering an open-ended requirement of objectively material injury found nowhere in the statute’s text. And it is more consistent with the statute’s “intent to strike at the entire spectrum of disparate treatment . . . in employment.”

Consequently, federal employees now can challenge a broader range of management decisions than before.

About AdminUN

FEDSMILL staff has over 40 years of federal sector labor relations experience on the union as well as management side of the table and even some time as a neutral.
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