Employment Law

Personal Injury

Another big corporation loses an employer retaliation case

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2023 | Retaliation |

Protection from discrimination and harassment would be effectively useless without protection from employer retaliation. After all, workers have every reason to fear that their employers will punish them if they report misconduct from a superior or harassment from the best salesperson at a company. Companies may not want to disrupt a toxic culture if the business is profitable or reduce the authority of someone accused of abusing their position.

When workers make use of their employment rights, whether they ask for unpaid leave following a medical diagnosis or ask a company to protect them from harassment on the job, they shouldn’t have to fear that their employer will retaliate against them for doing so. Federal law makes it illegal to punish workers for making use of their rights. However, that is exactly what happened to a FedEx worker a few years ago, and the courts have recently ruled against the business in a major retaliation case.

What does the affected worker claim happened?

According to the paperwork filed with the courts, a worker experienced retaliation shortly after speaking up about what she perceived as discrimination. After more than 12 years with the company and a history of promotions, the worker’s supervisor asked her to accept a demotion. She filed internal paperwork to report discrimination three days later. Shortly thereafter, her supervisor complained about her job performance, and then the company fired her. When the case originally went to court, a jury awarded her $1.16 million in compensatory damages and a shocking $365 million in punitive damages.

FedEx asked the courts to throw out the verdict or reduce the damages awarded, claiming that the worker did not prove her allegations and also that the punitive damages should not have exceeded the compensatory damages awarded to the plaintiff. However, a federal judge declined their request, leaving FedEx only with the option of appealing. The outcome of that appeal will obviously have a major impact on the life of the employee in this case and also on future discrimination and retaliation lawsuits.

Having the courage to speak up when a supervisor does something wrong should not lead to career consequences for workers who have already been negatively – and unlawfully – affected by someone’s misconduct. Thankfully, fighting back against retaliation can lead both to compensation and a change in company practices.

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