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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Thompson v. North American Stainless: SCOTUS Upholds Associational Retaliation in Title VII Case

In Thompson v. North American Stainless, LP, --- S.Ct. ----, 2011 WL 197638 (January 24, 2011), the Supreme Court of the United States held that an employee who alleged he was fired in retaliation for his fiancĂ©e’s filing of a Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against their mutual employer could state a claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act since a reasonable worker might be dissuaded from engaging in protected activity if she knew that her fiancĂ© would be fired.

Justice Scalia wrote for the Court:
Thompson was an employee of NAS, and the purpose of Title VII is to protect employees from their employers' unlawful actions. Moreover, accepting the facts as alleged, Thompson is not an accidental victim of the retaliation-collateral damage, so to speak, of the employer's unlawful act. To the contrary, injuring him was the employer's intended means of harming Regalado. Hurting him was the unlawful act by which the employer punished her. In those circumstances, we think Thompson well within the zone of interests sought to be protected by Title VII. He is a person aggrieved with standing to sue.
Slip op. at 6.

Justice Ginsberg wrote a very brief concurring opinion, in which Justice Breyer joined. Justice Kagan did not take part.

The opinion is available here.

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