Victory for common sense in “Heil Hitler” retaliation case

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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.

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.

The case

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.


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