Maloney O'Laughlin PLLC fights for employees throughout Washington, from Seattle to Spokane.

Maloney O'Laughlin PLLC fights for employees throughout Washington, from Seattle to Spokane.

Proving job transfers are discriminatory just got easier

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2024 | Sex And Gender Discrimination

When a manager or supervisor doesn’t want you around, they usually find a way to show it. For some unfortunate employees, that would result in an involuntary job transfer to a remote office or a different department.

In the past, employees who believed that their involuntary job transfers were based on discrimination, not legitimate business needs, had to show that they’d suffered “significant” harm to their conditions of employment to bring a case. That has now changed.

New U.S. Supreme Court ruling changes the rules

On April 17, 2024, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a unanimous verdict on Muldrow v. St. Louis, in which a female St. Louis police sergeant was involuntarily transferred out of her highly specialized department in favor of a male officer, at the preference of a new commanding officer. 

The female officer suffered no reduction in rank or pay, but she lost a significant amount of professional prestige, the FBI credentials that came with her former position and the loss of a take-home vehicle from the department. She also had to put up with on-call and weekend assignments, instead of having a regular schedule.

Several lower courts rejected the officer’s claims of sex discrimination under Title VII because they said that her transfer did not put her at a  “materially significant disadvantage.” Under the new ruling by the Supreme Court, however, employees need only show “some harm” to their career or terms of employment. 

In essence, the new ruling provides for a much broader definition of what might be considered an “adverse action” and discriminatory – so employers should be on notice. Employees, too, should take note, because their legal rights just got a little stronger.