What makes it interesting is that the employee was not given a pay cut, just a different job. The Court found that could still be an adverse employment action
The case cite is below and you can read more after the break. Holland v. Gee (Dk. No. 11-11659 & 11-11883) (11th Cir. 2012) (decided April 17, 2012 for publication)
Ms. Holland was an employee of the Sheriff’s department. She asserted a claim of pregnancy discrimination based on a transfer and eventual termination. The case went to a jury that awarded her $80,000 in back pay and $10,000 in emotional distress damages. The trial court had struck the back pay damages because she was transferred. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed the decision of the trial court. It stated that Title VII does not require proof of direct economic consequences in all cases. And prior cases in the Eleventh Circuit had held than an action is adverse if it involves a reduction in pay, prestige, or responsibility Hinson v Clinch Cnty., Ga. Bd. Educ., 213 F.3d 832, 829 (11th Cir. 2000). One of the other issues on appeal was a challenge to the evidence. One witness, a female, had testified that she had some concerns about the pregnancy and that was part of her thinking at the time of the transfer. The court stated that while the concerns or intentions may have been benign was not relevant. It provided “[c]oncern for a woman’s existing or potential offspring historically has been the excuse for denying women equal employment opportunities. Int’l Union UAW v. Johnson Controls, Inc., 499 U.S. 187 (1991). The defendant also challenged the decision based on the fact that it would have terminated the employer based on after-acquired evidence. The court provided that the defendant had not established enough evidence under the after-acquired evidence doctrine. Specifically, the court said that the employer must establish that the wrongdoing was of such a severity that the employee, in fact, would have been terminated on those grounds alone if the employer had known of it at the time of discharge. This case, as well as most defense attorneys, discussed this doctrine within the confines of misrepresentations on employment applications. The court would not apply this doctrine to a back-pay award.
The decision in this case is rather lengthy, 35 pages, in its original 11th Circuit format. The court overturned the trial court’s decision to vacate the back-pay and affirmed the jury’s verdict.