Singapore Northern V. White Case Study

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Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. White Argued: April 17, 2006 Decided: June 22, 2006 Facts Sheila White worked as a forklift operator for Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Company starting in June, 1997. She was the only woman working in her division at the time. After filing a complaint against her supervisor and co-workers alleging harassment and discrimination, she was transferred from forklift operator to track laborer, a job that required more manual labor. White filed a discrimination and retaliation complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in October of 1997. When her supervisor was informed of the complaint, he suspended White without pay for insubordination in connection with an incident with…show more content…
She was reassigned and suspended without pay, but later was reinstated with full pay. The transfer did not result in any reduction in pay or formal change in position, just different responsibilities. The change was therefore not “material” and her claim should be denied. Also, White was paid back pay for the wages lost during her suspension and therefore the suspension was not harmful to her (adverse). Arguments for White  The Court should use the “reasonably likely to deter” standard because it is consistent with the language and intent of the statute and that is the standard used by the EEOC. The language in the retaliation section of the statute is different than the language in the discrimination section, indicating that Congress intended for different standards to govern determinations regarding each section.  If the Court uses too high a standard, then employees will not have the ability to make valid retaliation claims.  Even if the Court uses the “materially adverse change” standard, the 37 days without pay was an adverse employment action. Many workers live pay check to pay check and going over a month without pay is devastating.  Because her transfer and suspension came immediately after her initial complaint was filed, it is a clear violation of the “reasonably likely to deter”
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