On June 29th, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a much-debated case about the definition of the concept of retaliation – e.g. the act of an employer penalizing an employee for filing a claim of discrimination, sexual harassment or other unfair treatment. In this matter, the High Court will address whether relatives, friends, or spouses of an employee are likewise protected from retaliation. The implications of the Supreme Court’s decision could resound, nationally.
Case Background — Thompson v. North American Stainless
Eric Thompson and his fiancée (at the time – now she is his wife) Miriam Regalado worked for North American Stainless, a steel plant in Carroll County, Kentucky. Ms. Regalado felt that she had been subjected to gender discrimination at the company. She filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) saying that her boss discriminated against her. The EEOC notified the steel plant of Ms. Regalado’s charge on February 13, 2003. Less than a month later – on March 7th – Eric Thompson lost his job.
Thompson then went to the EEOC to file a complaint for retaliation. Unfortunately for him, the lower courts dismissed his suit. They reasoned that Thompson himself did not engage in “protected activity” by opposing an unlawful practice. So he did not have protection against retaliation. The Obama administration has thrown its weight behind Thompson – the President’s acting Solicitor General (via the AP) said that the law “provides a cause of action for any party aggrieved by an unlawful employment practice, and an employee dismissed as a direct or proximal result of such a practice meets the standard.”
The Supreme Court has put the case on the docket for this fall – stay tuned to developments in Thompson v. North American Stainless.
If you, a friend, loved one, or spouse has been victimized by unlawful employment practices, you may need expert legal guidance to protect your rights and your wages. Connect today with the attorneys at Joseph & Kirschenbaum at (212) 688-5640 or www.jhllp.com. Get a free, completely confidential consultation about what your next steps should be.