The Supreme Court on Jan. 24 unanimously ruled that the fiancé of a woman who filed an EEOC discrimination complaint was protected from retaliation by their mutual employer and can now sue for retaliation.
In Thompson v. North American Stainless, LP, (No. 09-291, U.S. Supreme Court, 2011) the High Court held that long-standing EEOC interpretations of the scope of the anti-retaliation provision of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 apply to an individual harmed by retaliation, even if that person had not himself filed a charge of discrimination.
Plaintiff Eric Thompson is now free to sue the employer that fired him after his fiancé complained about sex bias.
The case has important implications for all employers, especially now that retaliation claims lead all other EEOC charges, according to the commission’s latest statistics. The court’s decision will likely embolden the EEOC to crack down even harder on retaliation.