Cox v. Onondaga Cnty. Sheriff's Dep't., No. 12-1526 (2d Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs filed suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e-3, against the Department, alleging claims of retaliation for their complaints of racial harassment to the EEOC. Plaintiffs had shaved their heads to demonstrate solidarity with one of the plaintiffs who had cancer and lost his hair as a result of chemotherapy. The Department subsequently investigated complaints that plaintiffs were "skinheads." The court held that the Department's initiation and conduct of an investigation into the white plaintiffs' claims of racial harassment alleged to have been generated by an African American officer, and a complaint against plaintiffs for filing false reports with the EEOC of such harassment, were not adverse employment actions. The court also held that threats by the Department to charge plaintiffs with making a false report to the EEOC established a prima facie case of illegal retaliation but that the Department has shown a non-retaliatory purpose, and plaintiffs have presented no evidence of pretext. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' retaliation claims.