Can an employee be retaliated against for supporting a colleague’s discrimination lawsuit?
In this instance, a court decided no.
Career ‘was done’
Alan Quinones worked as a lieutenant for the Binghamton Police Department in New York. When he heard his African-American colleague was going to file a discrimination lawsuit against the department, Quinones offered his support.
When the police chief got wind of this, he allegedly said Quinones’ career “was done.”
Quinones met with HR and expressed he was concerned his job was in danger after hearing the chief’s comment. Not long after that, Quinones filed a lawsuit, saying he was being retaliated against for supporting his colleague’s race discrimination claim.
But the 2nd Circuit ruled there was no retaliation. It said Quinones’ meeting with HR wasn’t protected activity because no official discrimination complaint was filed against the chief. There can only be retaliation if the employee engaged in protected activity. Quinones wasn’t fired for supporting the lawsuit, either, so no adverse employment action took place.
Cite: Quinones v. City of Binghamton, 5/21/21.