Supreme Court Decision: ‘Zone of Interest’ standing to sue for Title VII retaliation

In a recent decision issued by the Supreme Court in Thompson v. North American Stainless LP, No. 09-291, the Supreme Court found that the definition of a person “aggrieved,” as used in Title VII, should incorporate the ‘zone of interest’ test, expanding Title VII protection to those employees with an interest “arguably sought to be protected by the statute.”

The Plaintiff, Thompson, was discharged from his job three weeks after his fiancé brought charges of discrimination against North American Stainless LP, the same company Thompson worked for. This landmark decision will enable Thompson, and others in similar situations, to pursue a retaliation cause of action against their employers even if they are a third-party but are related to the grieving party in a significant way. The Court expressed their opinion by saying: “we expect that firing a close family member will almost always meet the standard, and inflicting a milder reprisal on a mere acquaintance will almost never do so, but beyond that we are reluctant to generalize.”

If you feel this situation is similar to your own employment situation, contact an attorney today.