On December 30, 2014, a federal district court issued a ruling which should serve as a reminder to all construction industry employers on one area of Title VII litigation which is very difficult to defend.  The case involved a painting contractor on a project to clean and paint three bridges.  The project was for the State Department of Transportation and the subcontractor was hired by the general contractor on the project.  The employee in question was the project site manager for the painting subcontractor.  On one day, the site manager received complaints from two of the painting contractor employees about racially discriminatory comments issued by a vice president of the general contractor.  The site manager relayed the complaints to his supervisor and to a representative of the State Department of Transportation.  The next day, the general contractor invoked a contractual clause with the painting contractor and demanded the removal of the painting subcontractor site manager from the jobsite.  The painting subcontractor's president sent the general contractor a letter asking to have the site manager stay on the jobsite and describing the general contractor's conduct as retaliatory.  The site manager was ultimately transferred to another location in a different state and ultimately laid off when that remote office was closed.  The federal court concluded that the eventual layoff was not related to any retaliation against the site manager.  However, the court denied summary judgment to the painting subcontractor on the site manager's retaliation claims under Title VII relating to the transfer.  The case will now proceed to trial or be settled.  However, the lesson from the federal court ruling is that claims of retaliation do not go away easily.  Moreover, an employee may proceed on a retaliation claim even if the underlying allegations of a violation of Title VII were not directed at that employee.  It is enough that the employee simply report the allegations of a Title VII violation.  In other words – do not shoot the messenger.  Prudent employers will add this issue to in-service training for managers and supervisors during 2015.  Failure to do so might result in a trip to federal court as it did in this case.           By Bill Harding, Chapter Attorney