Thanks to a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, a gray area relating to retaliation claims in the workplace is a bit clearer. This ruling has far-reaching implications for employers concerned about avoiding costly anti-retaliation litigation.

On June 22, the Supreme Court issued a ruling that effectively lowered the bar for plaintiffs asserting retaliation claims under Title VII. The decision, Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Co. v. White, held that that the scope of Title VII’s anti-retaliation provision reaches beyond workplace-related or employment-related retaliatory actions and, more significantly, that conduct is retaliatory within the purview of Title VII if it would dissuade a reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of discrimination. As a result, employers are likely to experience not only an increase in the number of retaliation claims but also a larger number of retaliation claims that survive summary judgment due to the somewhat permissive standard now established by the Supreme Court.

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