Tufts Health Plan has agreed to pay 12 former employees over $370,000 after the United States Department of Justice found that it unlawfully discriminated against the employees by holding them to stricter standards than other employees. The 12 employees were hired as a result of a minority hiring plan that Tufts initiated after the Department of Justice found in 2009 that it was discriminating in its hiring. Tufts reportedly retaliated against these employees by segregating them from other employees during training and causing them not to be placed in permanent customer service positions.
The case is a reminder that employers must be careful not to treat employees any differently when they initiate or participate in a case involving discrininaton at work. Similarly, employees who have filed a claim of discrimination or participated - such as by testifying - in another employee's discrimination case should look out for any negative treatment at work that occurs after the participation. It is equally unlawful to retaliate against an employee for such participation as it is to discriminate against an employee because of his or her protected status.