The U.S. Postal Service was delivered a win April 10 when the Fifth Circuit upheld the dismissal of a letter carrier’s retaliation claim against the agency ( Cabral v. Brennan , 5th Cir., No. 16-50661, 4/10/17 ).
Javier Cabral, a Mexican-American over the age of 40, was suspended for two days after he hit one of his supervisors with a postal vehicle and was unable to produce a valid driver’s license or occupational license after the incident. Cabral alleged that the suspension was actually in retaliation for his complaints about race, national origin and age discrimination.
The ruling serves as a reminder about the types of employment actions against workers that will be considered “materially adverse” in the Fifth Circuit to support a retaliation claim under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. A materially adverse action is one that would dissuade a reasonable employee from making or supporting discrimination charges. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit includes federal courts in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
Cabral presented no evidence outside of his own stated conclusions that he experienced emotional or psychological harm as a result of the suspension, the appeals court found. Cabral thus failed to show that his suspension amounted to a materially adverse employment action, the court said.