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Turning up the Heat on Employers: Thermostat Discrimination and Retaliation

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As temperatures begin to rise and employees put away their wool suits, employers face continued litigation over the critical workplace decision of the office thermostat setting. While employees generally do not succeed in their claims of thermostat discrimination or retaliation—thermination and thermaliation, as termed by workplace—temperature legal scholars—employers nonetheless are forced to defend themselves against ever—present thermostat malcontents. Increasing the likelihood of a surge in thermaliation litigation putting the heat on employers is the Supreme Court's recent expansion of what constitutes unlawful retaliation.

Turning up the Heat on Employers: Thermostat Discrimination and Retaliation

Thermostat battles are a fact of office life, but complaints seem to blow hot and cold. As anyone who has worked in an office with a centrally controlled thermostat knows, individuals have widely varying degrees of temperature comfort levels. Surveys have shown the second-most-common workplace complaint among white-collar employees is "office too hot." The most common? "Office too cold." Science supports employees preferring the heat but offers little relief to the overheated workers. Given this heated (or cool) environment, it is no surprise that lawsuits flare up.

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