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Fourth Circuit Reaffirms Retaliation Temporal Proximity Standard

The Fourth Circuit recently issued an unpublished decision in Ranade v. BT Americas.  Ranade brought claims against BT for FMLA retaliation and interference.  After discovery, BT moved for summary judgment, arguing that Ranade’s retaliation claims failed because the temporal proximity between her protected activity and BT America’s adverse employment action was too remote.  BT Americas also moved for summary judgment on Ranade’s FMLA interference claim.

The Fourth Circuit granted BT’s motion for summary judgment.  In doing so, the Court reaffirmed its prior caselaw that a six month gap between protected activity and adverse employment action is too remote to support a retaliation claim. In fact, the underlying caselaw cited by the Court illustrated that, in prior decisions, a gap of as little as two months was deemed insufficient to show causation and survive summary judgment.

The difficulty with this line of caselaw is that sophisticated employers are aware of it and can simply wait a period of months before retaliating against an employee who engages in protected activity.  That is one of the reasons why it is so important for employees to have employment counsel to guide them through the process of dealing with their employer if they are subjected to discrimination, harassment, or other unlawful conduct at work.