Fiance Can Sue for Retaliation

Miriam Regalado filed a charge of sex discrimination with the Equal Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).  Her fiance, Eric Thompson, the plaintiff in this suit, worked for the same employer, North American Stainless.  Three weeks after Ms. Rigalado filed her charge, North American fired her fiance.  Mr. Thompson sued North American for retaliation.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit threw out Mr. Thompson’s lawsuit because Mr. Thompson did not file a charge of discrimination.  How could North American be liable for retaliation if Mr. Thompson did not participate in a discrimination reporting procedure or oppose a discriminatory practice?  The U.S. Supreme Court disagreed, underscoring the breadth of the anti-retaliation provisions of Title VII and related statutes.  Title VII’s antiretaliation pro­vision prohibits any employer action that “well might have dissuaded a reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of discrimination.”  Here, the Court found, a fiance is protected even if he did not participate in a discrimination reporting procedure or oppose a discriminatory practice.  “We think it obvious that a reasonable worker might be dissuaded from engaging in protected activity if she knew that her fiancé would be fired.”  WHAT THIS MEANS TO YOU.This suit increases the amount of care employers must take when terminating or demoting an employee.  Employers should be cautious when terminating someone with a marriage, engagement, family relationship, or even close friendship to an employee participating in a discrimination reporting procedure or opposing a discriminatory practice.  Employers cannot “get back” at an employee by terminating someone else close to that employee.

Employees should not be fired or demoted by virtue of their friendship or familial relation with another employee participating in a discrimination reporting procedure or opposing a discriminatory practice.  To better understand how the facts of this case applies to your particular situation, contact Muller Law

To see the full text of the Thompson v. North American Stainless decision click here.