Suspension Not Materially Adverse

By Bill Wright

A retaliation claim under Title VII requires proof of a “materially adverse action.”  Short of discharge, what could be more materially adverse than a suspension?  The Fifth Circuit Court recently ruled that even a suspension is not always materially adverse.  The plaintiff will have to show that the suspension caused “physical, emotional, and economic burdens.”  Cabral v. Brennan, No. 16-50661 (5th Cir. April 10, 2017).

Don’t try this at home.  An employee might well believe any suspension to be stressful, depressing, and/or a threat to paying the rent.  Here the plaintiff presented no testimony or other evidence that he was unhappy to be off work for a couple of days.