"To retaliate against a man by hurting a member of his family is an ancient method of revenge . . . ." In Thompson v. North American Stainless, LP, the United States Supreme Court reversed the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit by holding that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) confers standing to sue upon an individual who suffers unlawful retaliation, even though that individual did not engage in any statutorily-protected conduct. Prior to Thompson, lower courts disagreed about whether third-party retaliation victims had proper standing to file suit under Title VII. In Thompson, the Supreme Court acknowledged the expansive standard applied in various lower courts that explicitly permitted third-party retaliation claims under Title VII, but ultimately rejected the extreme positions advocated by the parties in favor of a more moderate analytical framework. The Court applied the zone of interests tests to identify the class of individuals who have proper standing to pursue Title VII third-party retaliation claims. Given the recent increase in retaliation claims, Thompson potentially exposes employers to more retaliation liability than ever before. However, significant litigation is still necessary to determine which combinations of adverse employment actions and third-party relationships Title VII protects.
Strawbridge, Dodson D.
"Thy Fiancé Doth Protest Too Much: Third- Party Retaliation Under Title VII After Thompson v. North American Stainless, LP,"
Mercer Law Review: Vol. 63:
2, Article 9.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.mercer.edu/jour_mlr/vol63/iss2/9