Title VII Claims Since Burlington Northern

Avoiding Subtle Discrimination and Retaliation Suits in an Employee-Friendly Environment

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Course Materials


Recent federal court rulings have increased uncertainty for employers, creating new grey areas in Title VII compliance.

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co. v. White (BNSF) — that unlawful retaliation under Title VII does not require an "ultimate employment decision" such as termination, demotion, or pay reduction — may contribute to employer insecurity.

Employee-friendly court decisions are altering the benchmarks for discrimination and retaliation claims, raising concern by employers about whether such claims and litigation will increase.

The Ninth's Circuit's decision in EEOC v. NEA held that conduct that is "rude, overbearing, obnoxious, loud, vulgar, and generally unpleasant" can support employment discrimination under Title VII. Will more "subtle" workplace conduct such as sarcasm, snubs, and other acts, become a source of new labor law liability for employers?

Listen as our panel of Title VII legal specialists provide their perspectives on BNSF and other rulings, and their best guidance and practical strategies for employers and their counsel dealing with the new standards and trends in Title VII claims.



The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • What kinds of workplace conduct - that might be viewed as "merely obnoxious" - can support Title VII claims under BNSF and EEOC v. NEA?
  • Should employers and their counsel reevaluate the employers' position on current claims and workplace practices in light of recent court rulings?
  • What are some suggested best practices for employers responding to employee complaints of subtle discrimination?
  • How can employers avoid or mitigate employee discrimination suits in light of recent trends in Title VII rulings?


Dianna B. Johnston
Dianna B. Johnston
Assistant Legal Counsel for Title VII/ADEA/Equal Pay Act Division

She provides legal advice and assists the Commissioners in developing agency policy on new and complex employment...  |  Read More

Eric A. Tate
Eric A. Tate
Morrison Foerster

He represents management in all aspects of employment and labor law, including discrimination and harassment and...  |  Read More

Lisa M. Szafranic
Lisa M. Szafranic
Martenson, Hasbrouck & Simon

She concentrates her practice in labor and employment law with an emphasis on the defense of employers against...  |  Read More