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US Supreme Court Holds Lateral Job Transfers Can Be Discriminatory Under Title VII

The U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling in Muldrow v. City of St. Louis establishes that a lateral job transfer can be discriminatory under Title VII if it brings harm to the employee, even if there is no material decrease in pay or benefits. Click here for article.

  • The Ruling: In Muldrow v. City of St. Louis, the Supreme Court rejected the requirement for employees to show a "materially significant disadvantage" to prove discrimination in a lateral job transfer under Title VII. The Court held that an employee must only show that the transfer caused some harm with respect to an identifiable term or condition of employment.

  • Case Background: Muldrow, a police Sergeant, sued the St. Louis Police Department alleging sex discrimination after being transferred to a different position against her wishes. Despite no decrease in pay or benefits, she argued that the transfer resulted in harm, including loss of certain privileges and changes in working conditions.

  • Implications for Employers: Employers must now be aware that any harm suffered by an employee due to a lateral transfer may give rise to a viable discrimination claim under Title VII, even if the harm is not significant.

  • Steps to Reduce Exposure:

  1. Training and Awareness: Conduct training for HR personnel and managers to ensure they understand the implications of the ruling and emphasize fair treatment in lateral transfers.

  2. Review Transfer Processes: Evaluate existing transfer processes for potential bias or discrimination. Consider implementing objective criteria for making transfer decisions.

  3. Documentation: Thoroughly document all transfer decisions, including reasons for the transfer, to defend against potential discrimination claims.

  4. Consultation with Legal Counsel: Seek guidance from legal counsel on best practices for handling lateral transfers and minimizing legal risks.


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