Denial of Transfer Can Be Workplace Discrimination

May 12, 2008 ( - Getting turned down for a job transfer may be enough to sustain a workplace discrimination lawsuit under federal anti-discrimination laws, a federal appellate court has ruled.

Ruling in a case filed by a female Nassau County (New York) crime scene detective, the 2 nd  U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asserted that a denial of a requested transfer could represent the adverse employment action necessary to prove a discrimination case under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act even if the transfer did not involve a pay or benefit increase.  T he appellate court threw out a ruling by U.S. District Judge Dora L. Irizarry of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in favor of Natalie Beyer’s police agency and sent the case back for additional hearings.

Circuit Judge Guido Calabresi said that in a denial of transfer case, the key issue is whether a plaintiff puts forward enough evidence to allow a jury “to conclude that the sought for position is materially more advantageous than the employee’s current position, whether because of prestige, modernity, training opportunity, job security, or some other objective indicator of desirability.”

Beyer charged the Nassau County Police Department discriminated against her on the basis of her gender by not granting her request to transfer from the department’s Serology Section to the Latent Fingerprint Section (LFS) where she said she would be exposed to advanced scientific techniques and computer-aided resources. The new job would have the same pay and title that Beyer held previously.

“On the basis of these facts, which we must accept as true, we conclude that a reasonable jury could find that the LFS position Beyer sought was objectively and materially better than the position she occupied and that, accordingly, an adverse employment action had occurred,”Calabresi wrote for the appellate court, citing a 2007 ruling by the 5 th  U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a case involving the Texas Rangers.

The appellate ruling in Beyer V. County of Nassau Police Department., 2nd Cir., No. 06-4930 (April 23, 2008). Is available here .