Victory for common sense in “Heil Hitler” retaliation case

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Eventually, given ongoing performance issues, Singh suggested Satterwhite be demoted. The city controller agreed and he was dropped two pay grades.

Feeling thwarted, Satterwhite went to the EEOC and claimed he was being singled out for discipline because he had filed the “Heil Hitler” report. He made a formal charge of unlawful retaliation and brought suit in federal court.

The decision

When the case was first heard, the federal district court ruled that the city had “ample and reasonable grounds” for demoting Satterwhite so it was not an unlawful retaliation.

When the case was heard inthe appeals court, the judge’s comments were clear cut and, thankfully, perfectly in line with common sense.

“No reasonable person would believe that the single ‘Heil Hitler’ incident is actionable under Title VII,” the judge said.

“The Supreme Court has made clear that a court determines whether a work environment is hostile by looking at all the circumstances, including the ‘frequency of the discriminatory conduct; its severity; whether it is physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; and whether it unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance.’”

The judge then added that “isolated incidents, unless extremely serious, do not amount to actionable conduct under Title VII.”

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