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June 28, 2022
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In Patterson v. Georgia Pacific, LLC, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals stated human resource managers are protected against retaliation under Title VII where the employee opposed a former employer’s unlawful practices. There, an HR manager accused the employer of retaliation when it fired her after she gave testimony in a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against her former employer.
The employer argued that HR managers do not engage in protected activity when opposing discrimination in the course of their job duties and are therefore exempt from the Title VII ban on retaliation. The Eleventh Circuit found no such exemption in Title VII. The definition of employee does not have a carveout or exclusion for HR managers. The anti-retaliation provision applies to all employees regardless of their job duties. The actions opposing unlawful employment practices are what matter most.
Further, the Eleventh Circuit indicated that Title VII’s ban on retaliation makes no distinction between a former employer and a current employer. The text forbids retaliation by “an employer” against “any individual” for having “opposed any practice made an unlawful employment practice” under Title VII. The Eleventh Circuit noted a former employer’s employment practice can be just as unlawful as that of a current employer.
- Consult with legal counsel before disciplining or terminating employees who participate in activity opposing unlawful employment practices.
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Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser. © 2022 ManagEase