Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tangible Employment Actions

It’s time for a reminder about this common employment action:

Tangible Employment Actions

A tangible employment action is "a significant change in employment status." Characteristics of a tangible employment action are:

A tangible employment action is the means by which the supervisor brings the official power of the enterprise to bear on subordinates, as demonstrated by the following:

• it requires an official act of the enterprise;
• it usually is documented in official company records;
• it may be subject to review by higher level supervisors; and
• it often requires the formal approval of the enterprise and use of its internal processes.
• A tangible employment action usually inflicts direct economic harm.
• A tangible employment action, in most instances, can only be caused by a supervisor or other person acting with the authority of the company.

Unfulfilled threats are insufficient.

Examples of tangible employment actions include:

• hiring and firing;
• promotion and failure to promote;
• demotion;
• undesirable reassignment;
• a decision causing a significant change in benefits;
• compensation decisions; and
• work assignment.

Any employment action qualifies as "tangible" if it results in a significant change in employment status. For example, significantly changing an individual's duties in his or her existing job constitutes a tangible employment action regardless of whether the individual retains the same salary and benefits. Similarly, altering an individual's duties in a way that blocks his or her opportunity for promotion or salary increases also constitutes a tangible employment action.

On the other hand, an employment action does not reach the threshold of "tangible" if it results in only an insignificant change in the complainant's employment status. For example, altering an individual's job title does not qualify as a tangible employment action if there is no change in salary, benefits, duties, or prestige, and the only effect is a bruised ego. However, if there is a significant change in the status of the position because the new title is less prestigious and thereby effectively constitutes a demotion, a tangible employment action would be found.

Source: http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/harassment.html#IVC

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