On the last day of its term, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the issue of whether Title VII prohibits retaliation against an employee who is associated with another employee who engages in protected activity. The case—Thompson v. North American Stainless—hails from the 6th Circuit. I’ve covered this case in depth, so instead of recapping, I’ll simply direct you to my prior posts:
- En banc panel of 6th Circuit reverses prior holding in Thompson v. North American Stainless and rejects associational retaliation claims
- 6th Circuit decides that the closeness of a relationship does not matter in “associational discrimination” claims
- Associational retaliation revisited
- Courts sets boundary on associational discrimination claims
- 6th Circuit recognizes claim for associational retaliation
It is troubling that the Court accepted review of this case. For one thing, this Court has proven itself favorable to employee rights in retaliation claims. For another, there is no split among the circuit courts on this issue; the Court could have maintained the status quo simply by denying cert. Management-side employment lawyers and the businesses we represent should be concerned about the prospects of reversal and the recognition of a claim for associational retaliation. I will have much more coverage on this issue next year when the case is argued and decided.