Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a women’s fired fiancé could pursue a retaliation claim against the company that formerly employed them both. The court’s unanimous ruling expanded protections to close family and friends of workers who file discrimination claims against their employer.
According to NPR, the case came about when a woman filed a sex discrimination claim against North American Stainless; she said she was passed over for promotions and raises by her boss at the stainless steel company because of her sex. The woman and her fiancé both worked at the company, which is where they met. Three weeks after the woman filed her claim with the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the woman’s fiancé was fired from his job.
Lower courts threw out the case, saying that only the direct victim of retaliation could make a claim. The U.S. Supreme Court justices disagreed, saying that the case definitely deserved its day in court. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the court and said that it was clear that a reasonable worker might decide against filing a discrimination claim if they thought a close family member or close friend would be fired.
The couple who brought the claim said that they had to move to Arkansas to find work. The justices said that even if a close family member or friend is not the person who brought the discrimination claim, their firing would bring harm or punishment to the person who brought the claim, which Scalia said would fall under federal anti-discrimination law protections.
Court Rules Fired Fiance Can Claim Retaliation (NPR)