More On

Labor: Was it retaliation?

What employers need to know in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Thompson decision

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.


author image

Sara Ackermann

Sara Ackermann is a shareholder with Wausau, Wisconsin-based Ruder Ware, where she has substantial experience advising and representing clients in the...

Bio and more articles

Join the Conversation

Advertisement. Closing in 15 seconds.