Publication Date

Spring 2018

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Elizabeth L. Shoenfelt (Director), Reagan D. Brown, and Andrew S. Mienaltowski

Degree Program

Department of Psychological Sciences

Degree Type

Master of Science


Employers want to reduce or eliminate claims of employee retaliation whenever possible because of associated negative organizational consequences such as legal liability, various financial costs for the organization, and negative effect on employee morale. As such, it is important to identify the factors that impact the court’s decision to rule in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant. The purpose of the present study is to identify factors driving the court’s decision, as well as to review the implications of recent Supreme Court holdings for retaliation issues. Supreme Court cases involving a claim of employee retaliation from BNSF v. White (2006) to the present were reviewed and coded on factors likely to influence the court’s decision. Implications associated with these factors and the implications of relevant Supreme Court holdings are discussed. The ability of the plaintiff to establish all three prongs of a retaliation claim was found to be important for the court to rule in his/her favor. If the retaliatory act meets or exceeds the EEOC deterrence standard, the court tended to favor the plaintiff. Finally, the results suggest that the plaintiff should use the organization’s grievance policy, if there is one, as the court tended to rule favorably for the plaintiff when he/she used the available grievance policy. Additional implications are explored and limitations are discussed.


Industrial and Organizational Psychology | Labor and Employment Law | Law | Psychology