Landmark Ruling By Supreme Court Should Provide Greater Protections For Las Vegas, Nevada EmployeesFiled under Employment Law
In a case originating from Kentucky, the United States Supreme Court recently issued a landmark ruling that significantly expands the type of “retaliation” claims that are covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This decision is a major victory for employees and now means that virtually every employment decision an employer makes that adversely affects an employee has the potential to be a cognizable retaliation claim.
On January 24, 2011 the Supreme Court ruled in Thompson v. North American Stainless, LP that the employer engaged in retaliation when it fired the fiancee of an employee that had filed a discrimination claim. The basic facts were these: (1) Miriam Regalado, an employee of North American Steel (“NAS”) had filed a sex discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, (2) following Ms. Regalado’s filing of her discrimination claim, her fiancee, Eric Thompson (who also worked for NAS) was fired by the company. Mr. Thompson sued NAS claiming that his termination was unlawful under Title VII because he was retaliated against for his fiancee having filed a discrimination claim.
The Effect Of The High Court’s Ruling
Mr. Thompson’s lawsuit was unique because, until the recent ruling by the Supreme Court, federal courts previously refused to recognize the concept of “third-party retaliation.” Thankfully, that has now changed. Under the Supreme Court’s recent ruling, any act that might dissuade a reasonable employee from engaging in protected activity (even retaliation against the employee’s fiancee) will now constitute a potentially actionable retaliation claim.
Given the precedent setting nature of the Court’s ruling, it is still unclear how far the newly recognized protections of Title VII will extend to third-parties. Indeed, in rendering its ruling the Court stated that an affected claimant must be “within the zone of interests sought to be protected by Title VII.” Of course, this type of broad and somewhat vague language raises more questions than it answers. Suffice to say, however, that the boundaries of this ruling will surely be tested in the coming years by employee advocates.
What Does This Mean For Employees?
Overall, the Supreme Court’s ruling is very good news for employees because now, virtually every employment decision an employer makes that adversely affects an employee has the potential to be a retaliation claim. The key for an employee wishing to sue on a “third-party retaliation” theory will be to show a close relationship between the retaliated employee and another employee previously or currently engaged in protected activity. Thus, if you are employee and you’ve been retaliated against by your company in an effort to punish another employee, you might well have a “third-party retaliation” claim that you can sue for.
What We Do
At Paul Padda Law, PLLC, LLP we represent the rights of aggrieved employees and will fight hard to protect your legal rights. If you believe you have been the victim of discrimination, sexual harassment or retaliation, call us at (702) 366-1888 and let us review your situation and discuss your rights. As former federal prosecutors, we know the challenges involved with federal litigation and will ensure we give you the fighting edge.