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Title VII Violation – Retaliation Claim

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//March 14, 2023//

Title VII Violation – Retaliation Claim

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//March 14, 2023//

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7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: Brian Xiong v. Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin S

Case No.: 22-1271

Officials: Scudder, Kirsch, and Jackson-Akiwumi, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Title VII Violation – Retaliation Claim

Xiong wanted a new supervisor or he would stop working. The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh responded by firing him. But alongside leveling his demand, Xiong also reported to the University that his boss and the human resources department were violating Title VII in their hiring and promotion practices. Because the University chose to fire him just one day after this whistleblowing, a reasonable jury could infer that his termination was retaliatory. The existence of both prohibited and permissible justifications reserves the question for a jury to resolve. The Seventh Circuit’s conclusion is limited to saying he has shown enough to permit a jury to find that his termination would not have happened absent his complaint about Title VII violations.  Future litigation on the retaliation claim should focus on what motivated Fletcher, the Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration, as the ultimate decision maker for the adverse action, to make the contingent decision to terminate Xiong on March 7.

Affirmed in part and reversed in part.

Decided 03/09/23

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