More on Burlington Northern v. White

Factual Recap:Sheila White was the only woman in her department of forklift operators at Burlington Northern's Memphis train yard in 1997. After only a few months on the job, White complained of sexual harassment by her boss. She was suspended as a result of the complaints.A few days after her suspension, the company told White she was getting transferred to track laborer duties, because other employees complained that White was given the forklift job over more experienced male employees. The track laborer job had the same pay and benefits, but required "dirtier" and "more strenuous" work.White responded to the re-assignment by filing complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for sexual discrimination and retaliation. Approximately six months after White was moved to track laborer she was suspended for alleged insubordination. White's pay was withheld for 37 days. She was eventually given back pay when she was found not to have been insubordinate.The Issue: Whether an employer may be held liable for retaliatory discrimination under Title VII for any "materially adverse change in the terms of employment" (including a temporary suspension rescinded by the employer with full back pay or an inconvenient reassignment); for any adverse treatment that was "reasonably likely to deter" the employee from engaging in protected activity; or only for an "ultimate employment decision" (i.e. termination, demotion)?The Answer:A plaintiff must show that a reasonable employee would have found the challenged action materially adverse, "which in this context means it well might have 'dissuaded a reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of discrimination.' "More Coverage:As always, Nina Totenberg of NPR has some excellent coverage of the decision.

Here is some other coverage of the opinion:Washington PostNew York TimesChicago Tribune