Court Rejects Retaliation Charge of Intimidated Employee

February 9, 2006 ( - The 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed that a male employee who complained of a 'sexually intimidating environment' did not prove his retaliation charge.

In upholding the lower court’s ruling, the appellate court said that Gary Wallace failed to show a causal relationship between his discharge and a complaint he had made with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) almost a year earlier.

The court said the general irritation his supervisors had regarding the EEOC complaint did not prove retaliation. In addition, the court said that Wallace failed to overcome his employer’s legitimate reason for terminating him.

In 2002, Wallace had filed a complaint with the EEOC alleging that Sparks Regional Medical Center fostered a sexually intimidating environment for male employees. He complained that a female coworker ‘intimidated’ him by being ‘physically more aggressive’ in transporting patients before Wallace had the chance to, according to the opinion. He also said that his supervisor preferred female employees and was verbally abusive to him.

Though Sparks thought the claims were baseless, they settled with Wallace. In 2003, due to financial difficulties resulting from a decrease of patients, Sparks performed a reduction in force. Wallace was one of 136 employees displaced. During the time between the notice that his job would be eliminated and his discharge date Sparks informed Wallace of other positions he could post for.

Though Sparks rehired Wallace in September of 2003, he went on to sue his employer for retaliation. A lower court granted summary judgment in favor of Sparks.

The opinion in Gary Wallace v. Sparks Health System is here .