Employees sometimes find themselves summoned to an internal investigation and informed that they could be terminated depending upon the results of the investigation. As long as the employer is merely (and reasonably) enforcing its preexisting disciplinary policies, such circumstances (however unsettling) do not support even a prima facie case of employment discrimination.
In order to establish a prima facie case and put an employer to its proof that there was a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for its challenged action, an employee must demonstrate that he suffered an “adverse employment action.” This means “a materially significant disadvantage with respect to the terms of [a plaintiff’s] employment.” While each situation must be assessed under the totality of the particular circumstances, there must be “a significant change in employment status, such as hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a decision causing a significant change in benefits.”
Merely being called into an investigatory meeting and informed of its potential consequences does not constitute an adverse employment action, particularly where no discipline or other negative consequence follows. In the absence of an adverse employment action, an employee’s case will likely be dismissed via summary judgment without the need for a trial on the merits.
The employment law attorneys in the Westport, Connecticut office of Maya Murphy, P.C. have extensive experience in the negotiation and litigation of all sorts of employment-related disputes and assist clients from Greenwich, Stamford, New Canaan, Darien, Norwalk, Westport and Fairfield in resolving such issues. Please contact our offices at 203-221-3100.