False Filing Still Protected

By Bill Wright

A policy against making bad faith complaints of discrimination or harassment is no protection for an employer.  Recently, an employee – jointly employed by the Army and a private employer – filed a complaint of age discrimination with the Army.  Representatives of the private employer thought she should have filed it with them instead and fired her because she filed the complaint with the Army.  When the matter became a lawsuit, the court ruled in favor of the employee as a matter of law. When an employee participates in the EEO process – or at least when s/he files a complaint with the EEOC or another agency – the complaint’s being without merit, plainly false, made in bad faith, or an improper attempt to apply pressure is irrelevant. Even making false, malicious, and ignorant agency complaints is protected activity.  The employer’s policy against making bad faith complaints turns out to be a policy against participating in the EEO process.  In this case, even the policy itself was undisputed evidence against the employer. Calhoun v. EPS Corp., No. 1:13-cv-2954-TCB (N.D. Ga. August 8, 2014).