Court Opts for New Standard in Retaliation Cases
A former employee at Microsoft sued for retaliation in violation of the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD). She had previously made a claim for sexual discrimination that was resolved by settlement but the settlement terms later precluded her from working with other employees. When the issue arose, she was ultimately given a poor performance review and terminated, allegedly as part of a reduction in force. The appellate court upheld the grant of summary judgment in favor of her former employer. At issue before the Washington high court was whether the former employee presented enough evidence to show her supervisors had sufficient knowledge she had taken a protected action under the WLAD. The Court adopted the “knew or suspected” standard for evaluating causation in retaliation cases as a matter of first impression. The court believed the evidence tended to show both of her supervisors had actual knowledge she had previously engaged in protected activity before they subjected her to adverse employment action.