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Supreme Court Holds That Title VII Prohibits Discriminatory Job Transfers

Insights Supreme Court Holds That Title VII Prohibits Discriminatory Job Transfers Courtney M. Roman · May 31, 2024

On April 17, 2024, the U.S Supreme Court held in Muldrow v. City of St. Louis Missouri, et. al., that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating in decisions, such as job transfers, even if the transfer doesn’t cause significant harm or “significant employment disadvantage.”

Jatonya Clayborn Muldrow claimed her employer, the St. Louis Police Department, transferred her from one job to another because she is a woman. She further asserted that this transfer violated Title VII as the transfer diminished her career prospects because the new position came with less prestige, fewer responsibilities, and perks.

In 2022, the Eighth Circuit held that Muldrow’s situation did not trigger Title VII because her transfer didn’t meet the “materially significant damage” test. However, the Supreme Court rejected this holding and directed the lower courts to reopen the case.

The Supreme Court rejected the notion that Title VII only protects plaintiffs whose job transfers resulted in “significant employment disadvantage.” The Supreme Court noted that such a narrow view was inconsistent with the language of Title VII and held that transferees only need to show “some harm” or injury regarding their employment terms of conditions. Employees who are transferred do not need to show “that the harm incurred was ‘significant’ or serious, or substantial, or any similar adjective suggesting that the disadvantage to the employee must exceed a heightened bar.” Here, the transfer must have left Muldrow “worse off, but need not have left her significantly so. And Muldrow’s allegations, if properly preserved and supported meet that test with room to spare.”

Employers in circuits with similar harm thresholds should be aware that the Supreme Court’s ruling in Muldrow v. City of St. Louis Missouri, et. al. may impact an employee’s ability to bring a successful Title VII action.

This summary is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship with Rimon, P.C. or its affiliates.

Courtney M. Roman, Esq. is an associate at Rimon, where she practices in the areas of bankruptcy and creditors’ rights, corporate restructuring, labor and employment and litigation. In May of 2022, Courtney received her Juris Doctor from New York Law School. Prior to attending law school, Courtney received her undergraduate degree in English in 2018 from Binghamton University. During law school, Courtney served as a member of the Family Law Quarterly. Read more here.