Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits “people who haven’t complained of discrimination to sue for retaliation.”, and federal courts had initially rejected a claim by Eric Thomson citing this Title. But in January, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the retaliation suit filed by Thomson, who claimed his employer fired him three weeks after his fiancee – now wife – filed a discrimination complaint in February 2003.
The company, North American Stainless, argued that Article VII does not allow third party retaliation claims, and that since Thomson had not filed an individual claim based on discrimination, he was not protected by the law. They also claim that Thomson was fired only for performance problems.
But the Supreme Court rejected this argument. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the Court, said that “the purpose of Title VII is to protect employees from their employers’ unlawful actions…we think Thomas well within the zone of interests sought to be protected by Title VII.”
The Washington Post reported that “Scalia said that Congress’s broad wording in the law made it difficult for the court to come up with a “comprehensive set of clear rules” about who is covered. But he said “it is obvious that a reasonable worker might be dissuaded from” filing a complaint “if she knew that her fiancee would be fired.”
The case is Thomson vs. North American Stainless.