Not everything that happens in the workplace can give rise to a viable discrimination or retaliation claim. Various courts have emphasized that there must be an "adverse employment action". Otherwise, a claim will go nowhere.
But what exactly IS an adverse employment action? A new federal court case in Connecticut — in borrowing from judicial dictum of the Second Circuit — has said what is not: a paid administrative leave.
In Cooper v. Department of Corrections (download here), the court said that the employer had claimed "that it decided to place Mr. Cooper on leave based on [a] report, according to which Mr. Cooper made statements that might well be considered threats or warnings of violence."
Relying on language from the Second Circuit that "an employee does not suffer a materially adverse change in the terms and conditions of employment where the employer merely enforces its preexisting disciplinary policies in a reasonable manner," the District Court said that it was relying on that language here to find that no adverse employment action occurred.
The case is a good example of how an employer had clear written policies on how to handle alleged threats of workplace violence and addressed it through a paid administrative leave policy that returned the employee to the same position upon conclusion of the investigation. Even though the leave lasted nearly two months, the court said that was not enough to find that it was an adverse employment action.