August 02, 2022

Disciplinary action based on the employee's allegedly making false statements and, or, submitting false or misleading reports in the course of EEOC investigations

42 U.S.C. §2000e-3(a) provides that “It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against any of his employees ... because he has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this sub-chapter”.

Most federal courts that have addressed this issue have found that the statute protects employees from being subjected to discipline for filing discrimination claims or participating in EEOC investigations, “regardless of whether the allegations in the original charge were valid or reasonable.”

A New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings [OATH] Administrative Law Judge, Kevin F. Case, recommended dismissal of certain Specifications that alleged that a New York City Comptroller’s Office computer associate [Associate] obstructed an investigation by making false statements and submitting false documentation.

ALJ Casey found that Associate engaged in a protected activity when she filed an Equal Employment Opportunity [EEO] retaliation claim and suffered being served with disciplinary charges stemming her filing that claim. The ALJ opined that this could deter the Associate or others from filing discrimination claims, contrary to New York City’s Human Rights Law. 

The ALJ the held that with respect to one Specification filed against the Associate, Specification IV, the Associate was not entitled to such protection, finding that the Associate lacked a reasonable belief that Specification IV was true and thus she may be subject to disciplinary action with respect to Specification IV.

Judge Casey found that the Associate’s false or misleading statement to the Department of Investigation cited in Specification IV constituted misconduct and was not a protected activity, and recommended the imposition of a penalty of a 20-day suspension without pay. 

Click HERE to read the text of the ALJ's opinion.

 

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