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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Challenge Yourself!

Ava works at a local animal shelter. Oliver, one of her co-workers, e-mails her constantly at her work e-mail account to ask her out, ask what she's wearing, and ask that she send him pictures of herself. Because employees often e-mail each other updates about the animals' feeding and medication schedules and adoption availability, Ava can't block Oliver's e-mails. However, she tells Oliver that she's not interested and repeatedly asks him to stop e-mailing her. Oliver ignores her requests and continues e-mailing her. Ava tells Tyrone, their supervisor, about the e-mails and asks him to tell Oliver to stop. Tyrone tells Ava that he'll see what he can do, but that Oliver has been the top fundraiser for the shelter during the past year, and that it's in everyone's best interests to keep Oliver happy. A few days later, Ava arrives at work 15 minutes late because of heavy traffic and Tyrone fires her. Did the animal shelter discriminate against Ava?

  1. A is incorrect.
    Even though Ava reported that she was being harassed, she still has to do her job and follow the rules. The shelter is not required to wait until after it completes its investigation to punish her for arriving at work late, assuming that it would also have punished other employees (who have not reported discrimination) who arrived late.

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  2. B is correct.
    The shelter retaliated against Ava if it fired her for complaining about harassment. It is illegal for the shelter to punish Ava for reporting harassment internally (to the shelter) or to EEOC.

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  3. C is incorrect.
    The laws enforced by EEOC apply to e-mail and to other forms of social media at work, such as text messages. Ava is protected from retaliation for reporting harassment at work, whether that harassment happened on social media, in person, or in another situation. If the shelter fired Ava for reporting harassment, it retaliated against her.

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  4. D is incorrect.
    Ava is protected from retaliation for reporting harassment or other forms of illegal discrimination, regardless of whether she complains to the shelter or to EEOC.

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