A Company's Shifting Reasons For An Employment Decision Can Hurt The Company's Defense

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A San Diego federal district court recently provided guidance on what constitutes an "adverse employment action" and how an employer's shifting reasons for its actions may affect a discrimination case. In Coyne v. County of San Diego, the plaintiff, an employee, sued her employer for discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. The plaintiff claimed that she was transferred to a lateral position in a different division because of her gender and because she actively supported the gender discrimination claims of other employees. The County filed a motion for summary judgment. The parties conceded that the plaintiff had engaged in protected activity. The issues were whether the transfer constituted a materially adverse employment action and whether the transfer was justified by legitimate non-discriminatory reasons.

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