6th Cir. - Participation In Internal Investigation Related to EEOC Charge Protected Under Participation Clause
by Michael Fox
Where an employee was named as a witness to an incident that led to an EEOC charge being filed, and subsequently told the employer that he did see the incident and would so testify, the activity was protected under the participation clause of Title VII. Abbott v. Crown Motor Co. (6th Cir. 11/3/03) [pdf]. In a case of first impression for the Circuit, the court held that participation in an internal investigation linked to a filed EEOC charge was participation. The court also found that statements allegedly made by the employer near the time of the termination that he was going to get back at those who were involved in the charge and that the plaintiff was fired for sticking his nose where it didn't belong, plus a negative reference given in violation of the company's own policy, were sufficient to reverse the trial court's summary judgment. Retaliation seems destined to be one of plaintiffs best causes of action.