Supreme Court Endorses Associational Retaliation Claim

Late last month, in Thompson v. North American Stainless, the Supreme Court unanimously concluded that firing a worker’s fiancé in retaliation for a sex discrimination claim filed by the worker is itself unlawful retaliation under Title VII. The anti-retaliation provision of Title VII prohibits any employer action that “well might have dissuaded a reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of discrimination.” The Court had little trouble concluding that "a reasonable worker might be dissuaded from engaging in protected activity if she knew that her fiancé would be fired." The Court also concluded that the plaintiff had the ability to sue under Title VII even though she herself was not fired. This case is a good demonstration of the broad anti-retaliation protection provided by Title VII and similar employment laws. (More coverage here.)