Justices Turn Back County’s Appeal in Title VII Lawsuit of Employee Who Requested Transfer

An employee of Kalamazoo County, Michigan will get a chance to prove that he was the victim of age and race bias when he was transferred to another job with the county–even though he requested the transfer knowing some of the risks it entailed.

That’s the upshort of today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear the county’s appeal from an appeals court ruling allowing the Title VII lawsuit to continue.

The employee sought and was given a transfer to a vehicle supervisor job in a garage, which involved exposure to noise and diesel fumes. But then he had an apparent bout of buyer’s remorse after he took it, eventually refusing to show up for work and suing the county for discrimination.

A federal district court threw out the case, but the Sixth Circuit reinstated it, saying that it wasn’t about to hold definitively that a requested transfer could never not be an “adverse employment action” under Title VII.

The county’s next avenue was to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. But its refusal to hear the case leaves the Sixth Circuit ruling intact.

The high court’s rejection of the appeal was over the dissent of Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote:

“An old maxim warns: Be careful what you wish for; you might receive it. In the Sixth Circuit, however, employees need not be careful what they ask for because, if their request is granted and they encounter buyer’s regret, they can sue.”

The case is  Deleon  v. Kalamazoo County Road Commission, decided by the Sixth Circuit on Jan 14, 2014.


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