Poland v. Chertoff, 494 F.3d 1174 (9th Cir. 2007)

James R. Poland, a former employee of the U.S. Customs Service, alleged age discrimination in violation of the ADEA, retaliation and constructive discharge resulting from his transfer to a new job in a new location. After a bench trial, the district court entered a $339,000 judgment in favor of Poland. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the determination that Poland was retaliated against for filing an EEO complaint regarding age discrimination and for filing subsequent retaliation complaints. Further, the Court recognized that this was a case in which an employee with bias precipitated an investigation that led to adverse action being taken against the plaintiff by another employee who did not have bias—the so-called “cat’s paw” theory. However, the Court reversed the district court’s judgment that the Customs Service’s transfer of Poland from Oregon to Virginia amounted to a constructive discharge that resulted in his early retirement. Accordingly, the Court vacated the judgment and remanded the action so Poland could amend his complaint to seek remedies available under a retaliation theory rather than one involving alleged constructive discharge.