The news will come as a relief to employers who, following numerous changes to employment law, have a rise in retaliation claims over the past few years.
The judgement reiterates that employees will have to provide all-encompassing evidence, if they wish to prove they were unlawfully retaliated against.
For some reason, City of Houston employee Harry Singh decided to use the phrase “Heil Hitler” in a meeting – insensitive Singh was later informed by co-worker Courtney Satterwhite that his remark had offended their colleague, Daniel Schein.
Singh then apologised to Schein, who declined to file a formal complaint, but Satterwhite reported the incident to HR anyway. Chris Brown, the city’s chief deputy controller was informed and Singh was verbally reprimanded.
Ideally, the story ends here – but when Singh became Satterwhite’s supervisor some months later, the promotion caused problems between the pair.
Singh disciplined Satterwhite for a number of issues, including being absent from his desk for long periods and changing office procedures without notifying other employees.
One worker’s questionable lawsuit has ended in a win for common sense as an appeals court confirms a single incident cannot support a retaliation claim.