Wednesday, April 17, 2024

SCOTUS sheds light on discriminatory job transfer claims under Title VII

The Supreme Court published its opinion in Muldrow v. City of St. Louis. The syllabus succinctly describes the holding as:

An employee challenging a job transfer under Title VII must show that the transfer brought about some harm with respect to an identifiable term or condition of employment, but that harm need not be significant.

Some Circuit Courts had been applying a heightened standard, requiring "significant" harm. The facts in this case are illustrative of the kinds of close calls that will now come out in favor of the plaintiff/employee. The plaintiff was a police officer in the police department's Intelligence Division, who was transferred to a uniformed job in the Fifth District:

Justice Kagan
While Muldrow’s rank and pay remained the same in the new position, her responsibilities, perks, and schedule did not. Instead of working with high-ranking officials on the departmental priorities lodged in the Intelligence Division, Muldrow now supervised the day-to-day activities of neighborhood patrol officers. Her new duties included approving their arrests, reviewing their reports, and handling other administrative matters; she also did some patrol work herself. Because she no longer served in the Intelligence Division, she lost her FBI status and the car that came with it. And the change of jobs made Muldrow’s workweek less regular. She had worked a traditional Monday-through-Friday week in the Intelligence Division. Now she was placed on a “rotating schedule” that often involved weekend shifts.

This was sufficient to meet the Supreme Court's new "some harm" standard - as Justice Kagan notes "with room to spare."

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