On August 25, 2015, the 7th Circuit affirmed summary judgment in a Title VII retaliation case in which a Caucasian Deputy alleged that his employer terminated him in retaliation for testifying on behalf of African-American Deputies in their race discrimination case. Harden v. Marion County Sheriff’s Department, No. 14-1713 (7th Cir., 8-25-2015). Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for testifying or participating in investigations of employment discrimination claims filed by other employees. The Deputy testified for his fellow Deputies in connection with an EEO investigation of their race discrimination claims. He alleged that after he testified, he was subjected to retaliation in the form of undesirable schedule changes and assignments as well as unfair discipline, for which he filed his own EEOC Charge.
Subsequently, his employment was terminated in connection with an Internal Affairs investigation of which he was the subject. He claimed that the investigation was pretext for retaliation, but there was insufficient evidence to establish that it was a sham. The harassment to which he was subjected after testifying was retaliatory, but the upper-level personnel who conducted the investigation and made the termination decision were not involved in that retaliatory activity, which was committed by lower-level employees. The 7th Circuit concluded that there was otherwise not enough evidence to support an inference of retaliatory intent on the part of the decision-makers or a causal nexus between his protected activity and termination.