Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Thompson v. North American Stainless. In a unanimous decision (Justice Elena Kagan recusing herself), the court held that Title VII’s anti-retaliation provision applied to an employee who was terminated after his fiancée filed a complaint against the company.
This decision has since changed the employment landscape of retaliation cases, and employers need to be aware of its impact and the impact of post-Thompson cases.
The Supreme Court rejected this argument, stressing that there is “no textual basis for making an exception for third-party reprisals, and a preference for clear rules cannot justify departing from statutory text.” The court also rejected the invitation to define a “fixed class of relationships for which third-party reprisals are unlawful.”
Recognizing the opposite ends of the spectrum (a close family member versus a “mere acquaintance”), the court concluded that it could not generalize and that future cases will turn on their individual facts.