McRae v. Dep’t of Corrections, 142 Cal. App. 4th 377 (2006)

Dr. Margie McRae filed a lawsuit against her employer, the California Department of Corrections, and four individual defendants, seeking damages for discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The trial court granted summary judgment to the four individual defendants, and the case proceeded to trial against the Department. The jury returned a verdict against McRae on her discrimination claim, but it awarded her $75,000 on her claim of retaliation. The Court of Appeal reversed the judgment, holding (as it had in an earlier opinion) that neither the law nor the evidence permitted a finding of retaliation in this case. Plaintiff had failed to prove that the Department’s allegedly retaliatory actions (a letter of instruction, an unimplemented suspension and a transfer to another facility) had a “substantial and material adverse effect on the terms and conditions of [her]employment.” Compare Freitag v. Ayers, 2006 WL 2614120 (9th Cir. 2006) (Department of Corrections was liable for failure to correct hostile work environment created by male prisoners’ sexual harassment of female guards and for retaliation in violation of Title VII).