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September 19, 2013

Retaliation in Employment

CaseJim Ferguson v. Middle Tennessee State University

Facts:  Employee filed a lawsuit against his Employer for employment discrimination.  In a second lawsuit, Employee sued Employer for retaliation asserting that he suffered adverse job actions after filing his first lawsuit including being required by his supervisor to perform tasks contrary to his medical restrictions.  The lawsuits were consolidated and the jury awarded Employee $3 million in compensatory damages solely on the retaliation claim.

Appellate Decision:  The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Employee failed to present material evidence to the jury that the Employee’s supervisor, who took the allegedly adverse job actions against Employee, was directly aware of the pending employment discrimination suit.

Issue:  Did Employee present sufficient evidence that his supervisor was aware of his pending discrimination suit so as to show retaliation?

Review Granted:  September 11, 2013.

Prediction:  David believes that the Court will likely reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals and hold that the Employer’s undisputed “general corporate knowledge” of the first lawsuit and the circumstantial evidence was sufficient to establish that the exercise of Employee’s protected rights were known to the supervisor.