On September 1, 2023, the National Women’s Law Center co-led an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court along with our partners at the National Employment Lawyers Association and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and pro bono counsel Katz Banks Kumin, in the case of Muldrow v. City of St. Louis. The case involves Jatonya Muldrow, a sergeant with the St. Louis Police Department, who was transferred to a different job because her boss wanted to hire a man for her position.
Ms. Muldrow had nearly 10 years of experience working in the Intelligence Division on human trafficking and public corruption cases. Without warning, she was involuntarily transferred to a different role. Ms. Muldrow’s supervisor purportedly thought that her job was “too dangerous” for women and replaced with a male officer. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Ms. Muldrow’s forced transfer was not actionable sex discrimination under Title VII because she did not suffer a “materially significant disadvantage” because of the transfer.
Our amicus brief argues that requiring an additional showing of some “significant disadvantage” beyond the discriminatory transfer is an improper reading of Title VII that contravenes the text and intent of the statute. We shared with the Court how allowing employers to discriminatorily transfer employees perpetuates serious dignitary harms by treating people differently based on a protected characteristic, even when the transfer doesn’t result in a “significant disadvantage,” like a demotion or pay cut. Our brief also discussed how discriminatory transfers will exacerbate the economic harm of occupational segregation for women of color.