Denial of Lateral Transfer May Be Adverse Employment Action


In order to bring a claim for discrimination under Title VII, a plaintiff must show that he was subject to a materially adverse employment action, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has now held that the denial of a request for a lateral transfer may constitute such materially adverse action.

Typically, courts have found that materially adverse employment actions have a direct economic impact on the employee, and the D.C. Circuit had, in fact, previously issued an opinion in this case finding that a denial of a lateral transfer, absent a change in pay and benefits, did not amount to an actionable adverse action. The D.C. Circuit, however, reconsidered its decision and in Ortiz-Diaz v. U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, found that such denial could amount to a materially adverse employment action. The transfers sought offered better career opportunities and would have removed the employee from the supervision by an allegedly biased manager. Thus, employers should be aware that what constitutes a materially adverse action may be broader than those with a direct economic impact.