The United States Supreme Court recently ruled that an employee who has not engaged in activity protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 may still bring a third-party retaliation claim if the employee was fired because of the employee’s relationship with a person who has engaged in protected activity. Thompson v. North American Stainless, L.P., No. 09-291, __ U.S. __ (Jan. 24, 2011), available at http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/09-291.pdf.
The plaintiff and his fiancée worked for the same employer. A short time after the plaintiff’s fiancée filed a charge of discrimination against the employer, the employer fired the plaintiff. The plaintiff then sued the employer, alleging that the employer fired him in order to retaliate against his fiancée for filing a charge of discrimination. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the plaintiff did not engage in protected activity because he did not file a charge himself or on his fiancée’s behalf. The Supreme Court reversed.
The Court found that if the plaintiff was fired because his fiancée filed a charge of discrimination, his firing constituted unlawful retaliation, although the Court declined to identify a fixed class of relationships for which third-party reprisals are unlawful. The Court then determined that the plaintiff had standing under Title VII to sue his employer and remanded the case.
To speak to a Dallas, Texas employment law attorney about workplace discrimination, contact the Dallas employment lawyers at Clouse Dunn Khoshbin LLP at [email protected].
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