Today, there was a heartening, unanimous, decision from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Nine years ago, Sheila White says, she was made to feel very unwelcome as the only woman working in the maintenance department of a railroad yard in Memphis. And today, the Supreme Court said a jury was right to award her $43,000 for complaining about her treatment.Not so heartening is that it took nine years for this common sense decision to get made.
In a 9-to-0 ruling, the justices sided with Ms. White and against the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway, and in so doing broadened the protections for workers who sue their employers for retaliation after lodging complaints.
Writing for the court, Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote that "we believe it is important to separate significant from trivial harms." An employee's decision to report discrimination "cannot immunize that employee from those petty slights or minor annoyances that often take place at work and that all employees experience," he emphasized.
But the court found that what Ms. White went through went beyond the trivial and the annoying.