NELA Files Amicus Brief In DeMasters v. Carilion Clinic

Posted By: Roberta L. Steele March 04, 2014 11:10 am
Posted In: NELA Amicus Briefs
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Topic : Retaliation, Title VII  Keyword : Iqbal Twombly  Admin : Amicus

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On February 25, 2014, NELA filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in support of plaintiff DeMasters who was wrongfully terminated in retaliation for using established internal complaint mechanisms to notify Carilion Clinic about the sexual harassment of a co-worker by a supervisor. The court in the Western District of Virginia granted Carilion’s Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, holding that DeMasters failed to state a plausible claim of retaliation under Title VII because he did not produce sufficient facts to establish that he engaged in a protected activity. 

The circumstances surrounding DeMasters’ termination were egregious. DeMasters worked as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) counselor for Carilion Clinic for more than five years. In October 2008, DeMasters reported to Carilion’s human resources department that another employee, John Doe, had confided to DeMasters that Doe was being subjected to harassment. This was well before Doe filed an EEOC charge and subsequent lawsuit. In August 2011, shortly after Doe’s lawsuit was settled, DeMasters was questioned by Carilion managers about his involvement with Doe in 2008. DeMasters was asked why he had not taken the “pro-employer side” concerning Doe’s complaints. DeMasters also was told that he had not protected Carilion’s interests and left Carilion in a compromised position. DeMasters was then fired for “fail[ing] to perform or act in a manner that is consistent with the best interests of Carilion Clinic.”     

NELA’s brief in support of the plaintiff addressed the following issues:  (1) whether plaintiff’s complaint stated a plausible claim for relief under Iqbal and Twombly; (2) whether plaintiff can show “participation” under Title VII’s anti-retaliation provision when his actions occurred prior to the filing of a formal EEOC charge or a Title VII claim; and (3) whether plaintiff fell within the zone of interests sought to be protected by Title VII under Thompson v. North American Stainless.  The excellent amicus brief was drafted by NELA Amicus Advisory Council Co-Chair Michael L. Foreman and the Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law Civil Rights Appellate Clinic.  

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