All Content

Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Aug 23, 2012

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys 1:

Joseph Howell Johnston, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Porsha Perkins.

Attorneys 2:

Saul Solomon, Director of Law, Department of Law of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County; J. Brooks Fox and Christopher M. Lackey, Assistant Metropolitan Attorneys, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County.

William B. Ryan and Bryce W. Ashby, Memphis, Tennessee; Justin S. Gilbert, Jackson, Tennessee; Jennifer B. Morton, Knoxville, Tennessee; and Wade B. Cowan and Douglas B. Janney, III, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Amicus Curiae, Tennessee Employment Lawyers Association.

Judge(s): CLARK

An employee of an agency of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (“Metro”) was discharged after she filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and a lawsuit against Metro alleging employment discrimination. The employee appealed her termination to the Metro Civil Service Commission and eventually settled the appeal, receiving backpay and other consideration in exchange for her agreement not to apply for or accept future employment with the agency that discharged her. The employee subsequently filed a complaint against Metro alleging, among other things, retaliatory discharge in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”). Metro filed a motion seeking summary judgment. The trial court granted the motion, reasoning that the employee could not establish that her termination constituted an adverse employment action because she had accepted backpay and agreed not to be reinstated as part of the settlement of her Civil Service Commission appeal. The Court of Appeals affirmed. We conclude that the employee’s acceptance of the settlement does not preclude her from establishing that her termination constituted an adverse employment action for purposes of her federal retaliatory discharge claims. We reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals, vacate the judgment of the trial court granting Metro summary judgment, and remand this matter to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this decision.