Quick Hits

  • The Supreme Court ruled that employees challenging job transfers under Title VII do not need to show that they faced significant harm.
  • The ruling could open the door for more Title VII discrimination claims beyond those alleging traditional claims over adverse employment actions, including potentially reverse discrimination claims challenging employer DEI programs.

The Supreme Court decision in Muldrow v. City of St. Louis rejected a standard that employees show that a transfer caused a “materially significant disadvantage” or any other heightened bar, resolving a circuit split on this issue.

The decision revived a female police officer’s claim that a forced lateral job transfer to a less prestigious position that had the same pay but had different hours and responsibilities, among other differences, was allegedly because of her sex in violation of Section 703(a)(1) of Title VII.

“What the transferee does not have to show … is that the harm incurred was ‘significant,’ … [o]r serious, or substantial, or any similar adjective suggesting that the disadvantage to the employee must exceed a heightened bar,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the Court’s opinion. Three justices filed separate opinions concurring with the judgment.

The ruling in the closely watched case eases the path for Title VII claims over job transfers and could potentially open the door for more Title VII discrimination claims beyond those alleging traditional claims over adverse employment actions, namely hiring, firing, and promotion decision, including reverse discrimination claims challenging employer diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Such claims have faced increased scrutiny since the Supreme Court’s June 2023 decision on race-conscious admissions in higher education.

Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor developments and will provide updates on the Diversity and Inclusion, Employment Law, and Pay Equity blogs as additional information becomes available.

Follow and Subscribe

LinkedIn | Instagram | Webinars | Podcasts

Authors


Browse More Insights

Digital generated image of multi racial group of people forming circle on world map on blue background. Solidarity and support concept.
Practice Group

Diversity and Inclusion

Our attorneys are ready to assist with the full spectrum of workplace D&I-related issues. The members of Ogletree Deakins’ Diversity and Inclusion Practice Group have extensive and unique experience assisting employers in the creation, implementation, and management of D&I programs, including conducting thorough analyses of diversity data and identifying meaningful metrics and benchmarks.

Learn more
Busy Office : Computer laptop with financial graph data on table in the office
Practice Group

Pay Equity

Recent high-profile lawsuits and increased activity from state legislatures have thrust pay equity issues to the forefront for today’s employers. As the momentum of legislation, regulation, and corporate initiatives focused on identifying and correcting pay disparities continues to grow, our attorneys are ready to assist with the full spectrum of pay equity-related issues.

Learn more
Practice Group

Employment Law

Ogletree Deakins’ employment lawyers are experienced in all aspects of employment law, from day-to-day advice to complex employment litigation.

Learn more

Sign up to receive emails about new developments and upcoming programs.

Sign Up Now