With regard to a retaliation claim, a causal connection may be established by showing that the protected activity was closely followed in time by the adverse action. Courts have found that a lapse in time of a year is insufficient to establish a causal connection.
Plaintiff employee, a Hispanic woman in her mid-40s, was employed by defendant employer. The employee filed an EEOC complaint alleging that she was discriminated against due to a disability. After plaintiff's employment was terminated, she filed a discrimination action against defendant employer and supervisor. Defendants motion to dismiss plaintiff's action was granted by the court because the employee failed to demonstrate that she was disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act
Did plaintiff establish a causal connection between her dismissal and the filing of her EEOC complaint?
Plaintiff failed to demonstrate that she was disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act because she testified that her asthma restricted only her ability to go outside in extreme temperatures, not that it substantially limited her ability to breathe or restricted her employment opportunities. The statement that defendant employer needed "young blood" and defendant employer's doctor's comment that asthma worsened with age could not be considered discriminatory. The court held that a photograph of plaintiff with a black reverend and the words "you are just a white token" written over it, along with defendant supervisor's telling plaintiff to refrain from speaking Spanish were insufficient to sustain a racial discrimination claim. Plaintiff failed to show a causal connection between her dismissal and her filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission given that a year passed between the events.