In an important development in employment retaliation law, in April the federal appeals court whose area includes Texas allowed a retaliation claim by a female employee who, when asked to be a witness, supported a fellow female employee’s complaint that a male supervisor had insisted on looking at that employee’s derriere.  Such a complaint isn’t  ordinarily enough for a claim of sexual harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but the court allowed the witness’ retaliation claim anyway.

Previously, most courts had insisted that the employees claiming retaliation have at least a good faith belief that the conduct complained of was actually unlawful; in this case, EEOC v. Rite Way Service, Inc., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit effectively relaxed the requirement, declining to require employees who are asked to be witnesses to know exactly what sort of conduct constitutes sexual harassment.