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Long Arm of Retaliation

Regina Baines began working for Walgreens in 2005. She filed her first charge of discrimination, alleging race bias, in 2007. She claimed that her manager told her that she “messed up.” Ms. Baines then requested a promotion and store transfer. When she did not receive either, Ms. Baines filed a charge of discrimination for retaliation. One year later, she was transferred to another store. However, when she arrived at the new store, there was no work for her. So she filed another retaliation charge of discrimination.

Five years later, Ms. Baines applied for another job at Walgreens. The local store manager hired her much less qualified cousin instead. The store manager told her cousin that although she had wanted to hire Ms. Baines but she had been told by a higher up (purportedly Ms. Baines’ first manager), not to hire Ms. Baines. The final charge of discrimination was filed after she heard this from her cousin and Ms. Baines followed up with a lawsuit.

Notwithstanding the five year gap between the second retaliation charge of discrimination and the final retaliation in 2014, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals found that Ms. Baines had sufficient evidence of retaliation to proceed on her claims. Ms. Baines had evidence: that she had been interviewed for the new position although Walgreens had no record of her interview and denied it; the cousin testified to the manager’s comment about being directed not to hire her; and Walgreens’ possible deviation from standard practice in the old manager interfering with her hiring. With sufficient facts in dispute, the case was sent back to trial court.