What Temporal Proximity Supports an Inference of Causation for a Retaliation Claim?


U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit provided some guidance on this issue in a recent case involving an employee’s claims of discrimination and retaliation.

In Ali v. BC Architects Engineers, PLC, the employee alleged, among other things, that she was denied a promotion in retaliation for complaining of race discrimination three months earlier. She also alleged that she was terminated in retaliation two weeks after making another race discrimination complaint. The Fourth Circuit held that a three-month period was long enough to weaken any inference of causation, citing to both Supreme Court (three to four months) and its own precedent (10 weeks). On the other hand, two weeks was sufficiently “close temporal proximity” to support a retaliation claim.