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Discrimination plaintiffs get another try

An Amelia County Sheriff’s Office employee can pursue her age discrimination complaint, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Dec. 9.

In Ray v. Amelia County Sheriff’s Office, the appellate panel vacated a Richmond U.S. District Court’s dismissal of 45-year-old Linda Ray’s ADEA complaint. Ray alleged she was dismissed because Sheriff Jimmy E. Weaver wanted “to have younger-looking employees” at the front desk, wanted a replacement who was “less familiar with official policies and procedures,” and he had a problem with Ray’s desire to use her accrued annual leave.

Ray could not amend her complaint to allege retaliation, however, because her grievance that prompted the alleged retaliatory action dealt not with discrimination, but with discipline for her use of a county vehicle.

In a Dec. 8 case, the 4th Circuit vacated dismissal of a Title VII retaliation claim, holding that the Alexandria U.S. District Court failed to expressly find whether a brick company employee’s complaint to the Prince William County Human Rights Commission about offensive drawings in the workplace was “opposition or participation protected activity.”

It makes a difference, according to the unpublished opinion in Cumbie v. General Shale Brick Inc., because cases from the 4th Circuit use a “reasonableness” standard for opposition protected activity, but not for participation protected activity.
By Deborah Elkins

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