Lewis v. Wilkie, No. 18-1702 (7th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Lewis, an employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs, worked as a cook in the Nutrition and Food Service Department in 2008-2009 and again from December 2013 until April 2015. The four‐year gap in employment occurred because Lewis was terminated and then, after a successful Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint, was reinstated to his former position. Lewis alleges that upon reinstatement he faced retaliation from the VA and two supervisors for his EEO activity. The district court granted the Va summary judgment, holding that none of the alleged retaliatory actions constituted a materially adverse action. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Some of the actions constituted isolated administrative errors that were subsequently corrected; they represent the kind of minor workplace grievances against which Title VII does not protect against. Other incidents may have resulted in annoyance and frustration, but they did not cause the kind of harm that would dissuade a reasonable employee from engaging in protected activity. Unfulfilled threats that do not produce harm do not qualify as adverse actions. Lewis also failed to demonstrate a causal link between his protected activity and nearly all of the alleged retaliatory actions; failed to identify any similarly‐situated employee; and failed to demonstrate the VA’s legitimate, non‐discriminatory explanations were pretextual.