Tory Summey and Zack Anstett wrote in Law360 about a federal appeals court ruling that may give employers a more potent defense against lawsuits and change how they address internal complaints.
"At first blush, the result in the Johnson v. Global Language Center case last month seemed like it would be predictable: A plaintiff sending an email in which she specifically alleged that she experienced harassment and retaliation must surely engage in protected activity under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964," they wrote."
"The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit decided differently," they continued. "Surprisingly, it found that the complaint amounted to 'personal gossip' and did not qualify as protected activity under Title VII. The court's decision is notable because it eschewed the low standard typically applied to demonstrating protected activity."
"Employers should take notice of the ruling because it might affect employment decisions made in the wake of internal complaints and the defenses available to employers faced with retaliation claims," they said.
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