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What Constitutes an Adverse Employment Action?

  1. The employment action must be materially adverse, i.e. it must be more than mere inconvenience or an alteration of job responsibilities.
  2. Claimant must have an objective basis for demonstrating the change is adverse, rather than a mere subjective impression that it is.
  3. De minimus actions are not materially adverse. A change in employment conditions must be more disruptive than a mere inconvenience or an alteration of job responsibilities.
  4. A materially adverse action might be:
    1. Discharge
    2. Demotion or transfer accompanied by one or more of the following:
      • decreased wages or salary
      • a less distinguished job title
      • a material loss of benefits
      • significantly diminished material job responsibilities
      • loss of seniority
      • other criteria that are unique to the particular situation
    3. Supervisor's decision not to take action to stop harassment by co-workers in retaliation for employee's opposition to civil rights violations.
    4. Permanent transfer to another shift, even where no change in salary or position occurred, where the change in work hours impacted employee's ability to continue her education (Strouss v. Michigan Department of Corrections, 75 F. Supp. 2d 711 (E.D. Mich. 1999).
  5. Courts have held that the following are NOT materially adverse employment actions:
    1. Requiring employee to work at home while she was recovering from outpatient surgery (Jacklyn v. Schering Plough Healthcare Products, 176 F.3d 921 (CA 6 1999).
    2. Rejecting computer expenses that had previously been approved (same).
    3. Suspending a police chief with pay pending an investigation where there is no demotion or discharge, no loss of salary and benefits, and neither work hours nor material responsibilities are reduced (Jackson v. City of Columbus, 194 F.3d 737 (CA 6 1999).
    4. Giving satisfactory ratings in an overall evaluation, although lower than a previous evaluation, is not adverse where the employee receives a merit raise (Hollins v. ,188 F.3d 652 (CA 6 1999).
    5. Reassigning or transferring employee without salary, benefit or work hour changes is not ordinarily adverse (Kocsis v. Multi-Care Management, 97 F.3d 876 (CA 6 1996).
    6. Transferring an employee whose pay, benefits, title and job duties remain the same but new position is in another county so employee will have to travel an additional 20 minutes to get to work (Darnell v. Campbell County Fiscal Court, 924 F.2d 1057 (CA 6 1991).
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