Denial of Additional Shifts Could Constitute Adverse Action for Retaliation Claim under Title VII

by Joseph C. Maya on Feb. 21, 2024


Summary: In a U.S. District Court decision, the Court found that a restaurant’s denial of an employee’s opportunity to work additional shifts could satisfy the adverse action requirement to support a Retaliation claim under Title VII. [1]

Case Background

The employee worked as a server at a restaurant. During the period the plaintiff was employed, she alleged that on multiple occasions she was subject to sexually humiliating comments and unwanted physical contact, including inappropriate touching, by her immediate supervisor.[2] The plaintiff informed management repeatedly of the sexual harassment by her supervisor.  When her employer learned that she had had received legal advice based on the sexual harassment, the plaintiff alleged that she was no longer able to pick up additional shifts at the restaurant.

On July 8, 2010, she filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in which she alleged discrimination based on sex and retaliation under Title VII.  The employer moved to dismiss the claims.

Retaliation Claims Under Title VII

To support a Retaliation claim under Title VII, a plaintiff must demonstrate: (1) engagement in a protected activity; (2) adverse employment action; and (3) a causal link between the protected activity.  “Adverse employment action includes any retaliatory act or harassment if, but only if, that act or harassment results in an adverse effect on the terms, conditions, or benefits of employment.”[3] An adverse action can also include an employer’s decision to demote an employee or relegate him to “reduced pay, diminished opportunity for promotion, reduced responsibility, or lower rank.”[4]

The Court’s Decision

The District Court held that it was plausible that “a plaintiff serving in a job with a fluctuating schedule where pay is tied closely to the amount and type of hours worked (and where certain shifts are more remunerative than others), could make a showing that the failure to assign additional shifts effectively subjects the plaintiff to ‘reduced pay, diminished opportunity for promotion, reduced responsibility, or lower rank.’”[5] The Court accordingly found that the employee had sufficiently alleged an adverse action and the facts demonstrated a link between her seeking legal advice and the adverse action by the employer.

[1] Ortiz v. Big Bear Events, LLC, 3:12-CV-341-RJC-DCK, 2013 WL 247444 (W.D.N.C. Jan. 23, 2013)

[2] Doc. No. 1–1: Complaint at ¶¶ 23, 36

[3] Von Gunten v. Maryland, 243 F.3d 858, 866 (4th Cir.2001).

[4] Royster v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 378 F.Supp.2d 595, 605 (M.D.N.C.2005).

[5] See Footnote 1.

Maya Murphy P.C. has proudly been included in the 2024 Edition of Best Law Firms®, ranked among the top firms in the nation. In addition, Managing Partner Joseph C. Maya has been selected to The Best Lawyers in America® 2024 for his work in Employment Law and Education Law in Connecticut. Recognition in Best Lawyers® is awarded to firms and attorneys who demonstrate excellence in the industry, and is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor.

Our firm in Westport, Connecticut serves clients with legal assistance all over the state, including the towns of: Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Bethel, Branford, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Cheshire, Danbury, Darien, Derby, East Haven, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Meriden, Middlebury, Milford, Monroe, Naugatuck, New Canaan, New Fairfield, New Haven, Newton, North Branford, North Haven, Norwalk, Orange, Oxford, Prospect, Redding, Ridgefield, Seymour, Shelton, Sherman, Southbury, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Wallingford, Waterbury, West Haven, Weston, Westport, Wilton, and Woodbridge. In addition to assisting clients in Connecticut, our firm handles education law and employment law matters in New York as well. 

If you have any questions about employment law or education law in Connecticut, or would like to speak to an attorney about a legal matter, please contact Joseph C. Maya and the other experienced attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221-3100 or to schedule a free initial consultation today.

Legal Articles Additional Disclaimer is not a law firm and does not offer legal advice. Content posted on is the sole responsibility of the person from whom such content originated and is not reviewed or commented on by The application of law to any set of facts is a highly specialized skill, practiced by lawyers and often dependent on jurisdiction. Content on the site of a legal nature may or may not be accurate for a particular state or jurisdiction and may largely depend on specific circumstances surrounding individual cases, which may or may not be consistent with your circumstances or may no longer be up-to-date to the extent that laws have changed since posting. Legal articles therefore are for review as general research and for use in helping to gauge a lawyer's expertise on a matter. If you are seeking specific legal advice, recommends that you contact a lawyer to review your specific issues. See's full Terms of Use for more information.