The US Supreme Court Allows a Third Party Retaliation Claim to Go Forward

Reversing the lower court’s decision, the US Supreme Court, in Thompson v. North American Stainless LP, a third party retaliation claim proceed. In that case, both the Plaintiff and his fiance worked for the Defendant. Shortly after Plaintiff’s fiancee filed sex discrimination charge with EEOC against the employer, Plaintiff was fired. The Court noted that Title VII’s antiretaliation provision prohibits an employer from discriminating any of his employees for engaging in protected conduct, and further pointed out that it is obvious that a reasonable worker might be discouraged from engaging in a protected activity, such as complaining about discrimination or harassment, if she knew that her fiance would be fired.

The court declined to identify a fixed class of relationships for which third-party reprisals would be unlawful. The court stated however that firing a close family member will almost always meet the standard of a person who is in a “zone of interest” for purposes of establishing retaliation against a third party.