Holland v. State
Merely being called into a meeting and being informed of an investigation and its possible consequences may not qualify as an adverse employment action, for purposes of a race discrimination claim pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In 1993, the state Department of Transportation hired the plaintiff, Anthony Holland. Holland, who is African-American, experienced difficulty with his Caucasian supervisor, Kelli McKeon. The state accommodated his request that another individual serve as his supervisor. In September 2009, McKeon reported to the police that her tires were slashed. Allegedly, a friend who discovered the tires observed African-American men, in a nearby car, laughing. McKeon reported to the DOT that she was concerned that Holland might have been involved in the incident. Although the police did not find that Holland was responsible, and he was not disciplined at work, he became convinced that opportunities for further advancement at work were restricted. Holland filed suit in Connecticut Superior Court, alleging race discrimination. The state removed his state-court suit to the U.S. District Court and moved for summary judgment. To establish a prima facie case, Holland is required to prove: 1.) he belonged to a protected class; 2.) he was qualified; 3.) he suffered an adverse employment action; and 4.) he suffered the adverse employment action in circumstances that gave rise to an inference of unlawful discrimination on the basis of race. Adverse employment actions may include failure to promote, a decrease in pay, a significant change in benefits, or a reassignment with significantly different responsibilities. Allegations that Holland was informed that he had been accused of slashing McKeon's tires; that he was informed that he could be discharged, if the accusations were true; and that he was unable to enjoy a good work relationship with McKeon, did not qualify as adverse employment action. Holland was not denied any positions for which he applied. He was not disciplined, and he did not lose pay, as a result of McKeon's accusations. A reasonable juror could not find that there was adverse employment action, and the court granted the state's motion for summary judgment.