Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
333 N.W. 3rd Avenue
Ocala, Florida 34475
James P. Tarquin, P.A Call for a FREE Consultation!352-401-7671
Employment Law Blog
James Tarquin, P.A
As part of our commitment to assist and educate employees in fighting back against the abusive employment practices of employers, we offer a broad range of information about employment law issues in our employment blog.

Can Employers Condition An Employee’s Continued Employment On Dropping An EEOC Complaint?

Courage and speak up text on wooden stick. Business culture value concept.

Through their decades of experience representing employees, our retaliation lawyers in Citrus County, Florida know that employees are often targeted for retaliation after filing a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). Knowing that employees who file EEOC discrimination complaints have fears of retaliation, employers exploit those feelings of vulnerability by attempting to persuade employees to withdraw their EEOC discrimination complaints. In some cases, employers’ persuasive efforts involve implicit or explicit threats of termination if employees do not drop an EEOC discrimination complaint. For example, employers make implicit threats of termination by suggesting or requesting that employees drop an EEOC discrimination complaint if they want a future with the company. Likewise, employers make explicit threats of termination by demanding that employees withdraw an EEOC discrimination complaint if they want to continue working for the company. In this article, our retaliation attorneys in Citrus County, Florida explain how the alleged facts in Battle v. Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, 2023 WL 4868458 (M.D. N.C. July 31, 2023) demonstrate that conditioning an employee’s continued employment on withdrawing an EEOC discrimination complaint is an unlawful act of retaliation prohibited by federal employment discrimination law.

Retaliatory Termination Lawsuit

In that case, a woman named Battle brought an employment discrimination lawsuit against her former employer, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center (“Wake Forest”), pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”). Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of race. In order to protect employee rights, Title VII also contains an anti-retaliation provision. Under Title VII, it is unlawful for employers to retaliate against employees who complain about perceived racial discrimination in the workplace. Title VII’s anti-retaliation provision protects employees who complain internally about race discrimination and employees who complain to the EEOC about race discrimination. Battle claims that Wake Forest violated Title VII by firing her because she filed a race discrimination complaint with the EEOC.

Battle worked for Wake Forest as a Patient Services Representative. Battle claims that beginning in January 2020, she was subjected to racial harassment by a Regional Supervisor. On January 1, 2020, Battle alleges that after an African-American patient checked out, the Regional Supervisor said, “All dark-skin blacks stink.” Battle asserts that the Regional Supervisor repeated this comment almost every day until Battle was terminated, one year and three months later. In February 2020, according to Battle, the Regional Supervisor made a racist comment about Michelle Obama. That same month, Battle alleges that the Regional Supervisor said, “All Black people” are on Medicaid. Battle maintains that the Regional Supervisor made this comment approximately twenty times a month—until Battle was terminated. On another occasion, Battle alleges that the Regional Supervisor called an African-American co-worker a racist name and asked Battled “How’s that for racist.”

On February 11, 2021, Battle filed a race discrimination complaint with the EEOC. On March 8, 2021, Battle was terminated. Following her termination, Battle filed a second EEOC complaint. In her second EEOC complaint, Battle alleged that Wake Forest “requested” that she “drop” her EEOC complaint. After she refused to drop her EEOC complaint, according to her second EEOC complaint, Battle “was terminated.” In her second EEOC complaint, Battle further alleged that the “reason given for my termination was my refusal to accept [Wake Forest’s] demand to withdraw my EEOC” complaint. During her deposition, Battle testified that management employees told her that she was being terminated “because [she] filed [a complaint] with the EEOC” and that, contrary to what she stated in her second EEOC complaint, she was not given the option to drop her EEOC complaint prior to her termination.

According to Wake Forest, Battle was fired for “a pattern of unacceptable behavior including insubordination and failing to follow the direction of her leaders.”

“Smoking Gun” Evidence Of Retaliation

Wake Forest filed a motion with the trial court seeking dismissal of Battle’s retaliation claim. In moving for dismissal, Wake Forest argued that the evidence established Battle was fired for legitimate, non-retaliatory reasons. The trial court disagreed and ruled that Battle was entitled to proceed to a jury trial on the issue of whether Wake Forest fired her in retaliation for filing an EEOC race discrimination complaint.

In denying Wake Forest’s motion for dismissal, the trial court found that Battle had produced “direct evidence of retaliation.” The trial court pointed out that Battle alleged in her second EEOC complaint that she was fired because of her refusal to drop her first EEOC complaint. The court also noted that Battle “modified” the account in her second EEOC complaint “slightly in her deposition” because she testified that management employees “told her that she was being fired because she would not drop her EEOC,” but that “they did not give her an opportunity to drop” the EEOC complaint. The trial court determined that whether it “credits the version of events outlined in [Battle’s] EEOC complaint or her deposition, they provide direct evidence of retaliation” because “they reflect directly the alleged retaliatory attitude” and “bear directly on the contested employment decision.” In other words, the trial court reasoned, each version of events constitutes “smoking gun” evidence that Battle was fired because she filed an EEOC race discrimination complaint.

Citrus County, FL Retaliation Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing workers throughout Florida, our retaliation attorneys in Citrus County, Florida have litigated retaliation cases in Florida courts for more than two decades. If you have been retaliated against for exercising your employee rights or have questions about your protection from retaliation under federal employment discrimination law, please contact our office for a free consultation with our retaliation lawyers in Citrus County, Florida. Our employee rights law firm takes retaliation cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.

Designed and Powered by NextClient

© 2015 - 2024 James P. Tarquin, P.A. All rights reserved.
This Custom WebShop™ attorney website is designed
by NextClient.com.

Contact Form Tab Close Menu