Several federal and state anti-retaliation laws prohibit an employer from retaliating against an employee on account of the employee’s testimony or assistance in an investigation.
The anti-retaliation provision of Title VII provides broad protection for participation in any manner in a Title VII-related proceeding, which encompasses protection for testifying or volunteering to testify on behalf of a co-worker, even if the person is never actually called to testify. In Jute v. Hamilton Sundstrand Corp., 420 F. 3d 166 (2d Cir. 2005), the Second Circuit held that Title VII protects an employee who planned to testify in a co-worker’s discrimination case but was never called to testify because the case settled. And the Second Circuit has held that retaliation against an employee who involuntarily testified as a witness in a proceeding violates the anti-retaliation provision of Title VII. See Deravin v. Kerik, 335 F.3d 195, 204 (2d Cir. 2003).
Most federal whistleblower protection laws, including the whistleblower protection provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, expressly protect employees participating in or otherwise assisting in a proceeding filed or about to be filed (with any knowledge of the employer).
And as the Supreme Court held in Haddle v. Garrison, 525 U.S. 121 (1998), terminating an employee in furtherance of a conspiracy to retaliate against him for his appearance in federal court and to deter him and others from testifying in subsequent federal court proceedings gives rise to a claim under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. 1985(2) and (3).
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