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Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Ry. v. White

Supreme Court of the United States

April 17, 2006, Argued ; June 22, 2006, Decided

No. 05-259

Opinion

 [*56]   [**2408]  Justice Breyer delivered the opinion of the Court.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids employment discrimination  [***353]  against "any individual" based on that individual's "race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." Pub. L. 88-352, § 704, 78 Stat. 257, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a). A separate section of the Act [****8]  --its antiretaliation provision--forbids an employer from "discriminat[ing] against" an employee or job applicant because that individual "opposed any practice" made unlawful by Title VII or "made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in" a Title VII proceeding or investigation. § 2000e-3(a).

 [*57]  The Courts of Appeals have come to different conclusions about the scope of the Act's antiretaliation provision, particularly the reach of its phrase "discriminate against." Does that provision confine actionable retaliation to activity that affects the terms and conditions of employment? And how harmful must the adverse actions be to fall within its scope?

 [**2409]  We conclude that ] the antiretaliation provision does not confine the actions and harms it forbids to those that are related to employment or occur at the workplace. We also conclude that the provision covers those (and only those) employer actions that would have been materially adverse to a reasonable employee or job applicant. In the present context that means that the employer's actions must be harmful to the point that they could well dissuade a reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of discrimination.

 [****9]  A

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548 U.S. 53 *; 126 S. Ct. 2405 **; 165 L. Ed. 2d 345 ***; 2006 U.S. LEXIS 4895 ****; 74 U.S.L.W. 4423; 98 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 385; 87 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P42,394; 19 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 326

BURLINGTON NORTHERN & SANTA FE RAILWAY COMPANY, Petitioner v. SHEILA WHITE

Prior History:  [****1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT.

 White v. Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Ry., 364 F.3d 789, 2004 U.S. App. LEXIS 7191 (6th Cir. Tenn., 2004)

Disposition:  [***345]  Affirmed.

CORE TERMS

retaliation, antiretaliation, EEOC, Manual, retaliatory, dissuade, employees, reassignment, terms, discriminate, conditions, workplace, reasonable employee, forklift, employment-related, suspension, antidiscrimination provision, adverse employment action, substantive provisions, filing of charges, quotation, marks, track, privileges of employment, challenged action, employment action, retaliation claim, employer action, discriminatory, circumstances

Labor & Employment Law, Statutory Application, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, General Overview, Title VII Discrimination, Scope & Definitions, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Retaliation, Elements, Adverse Employment Actions, Discrimination, Amendments, Remedies, Damages, Injunctions