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Supreme Court Rules Third-Party Victim of Retaliation Has the Right to Sue

January 26, 2011

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously on a retaliation ban limits case this week, that our Riverside labor and employment attorneys discussed in a recent blog, stating that a company can be sued for retaliation by terminating an employee's fiancée.

In the original lawsuit, Miriam Regalado, a female engineer at North American Stainless plant, filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) claiming that as one of only a few female engineers, she had experienced gender-based discrimination by her supervisors, and failed to receive the same pay raises as her male colleagues in similar positions.

As our Carson employment lawyers discussed in a related sex discrimination blog, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is against the law for an employer to retaliate against an employee for reporting gender-based discrimination.

At the time of the complaint, Regalado was engaged to Eric Thompson, (they are now married), a metallurgical engineer who also worked at the plant. Thompson was fired three weeks after Regalado's EEOC sex-discrimination complaint against their mutual employer was revealed.

Thompson decided to file his own retaliation claim, but his lawsuit was thrown out of the federal appeals courts because according to federal law, a retaliation claim is not permitted by a plaintiff who did not engage in opposing the unlawful employment practice, such as protesting the gender-based treatment his fiancée experienced, or supporting her in the complaint.

The Supreme Court debated in December of last year, whether any person outside of the individual who endured the discrimination based on gender can sue under federal discrimination laws.

On Monday, the high court favored the couple in an 8-0 ruling concluding that third-party victims of retaliation are covered by federal protections. The Supreme Court claimed that Eric Thompson had "standing" to file a lawsuit of his own against the company, and to address the retaliation and injuries that he suffered as a result of the unlawful employment treatment.

In cities throughout Orange County, California, contact our labor and employment attorneys at Howard Law, PC today.

Supreme Court Says Company Can't Retaliate Against Employee By Firing Fiancée, Associated Press/Los Angeles Times, January 24, 2011

High Court Affirms Third-Party Standing in Employer Retaliation Suit, CNN, January 24, 2010

Related Web Resources:

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, (EEOC)