NJ Retaliation Lawyer – Can You Sue If You’re Fired in Retaliation for Something Done by a Family Member?

By Thomas McKinney

Eric Thompson claimed he was fired because his fiancé filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The United States Supreme Court unanimously held that if Thompson’s allegations proved true, then firing him was illegal retaliation under federal laws banning discrimination in the workplace.  See Thompson v. North American Stainless (January 24, 2011).   The Court reasoned that, “We think it obvious that a reasonable worker might be dissuaded from engaging in protected activity if she knew that her fiancé would be fired.”

The federal anti-discrimination law permitted Thompson a legal claim for being fired because he was within the “zone of interests” that the law intends to protect.  The Court said, “Thompson is not an accidental victim of the retaliation – collateral damage, so to speak, of the employer’s unlawful act. To the contrary, injuring him was the employer’s intended means of harming [his fiancé]. Hurting him was the unlawful act by which the employer punished her. In those circumstances, we think Thompson well within the zone of interests sought to be protected by Title VII [the federal anti-discrimination law]. He is a person aggrieved with standing to sue.”

February 1, 2011 – Paul Castronovo – Castronovo & McKinney

About the Author
Tom McKinney is an experienced NJ Employment Lawyer in all major areas of labor and employment law, including discrimination, harassment, overtime violations, wage and hour claims, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, FMLA, LAD, FLSA, and all other employment law claims. Tom is admitted to practice in the States of New Jersey and New York, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York, District of New Jersey, and United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Prior to forming the firm, Tom practiced at Gibbons P.C. in Newark, NJ. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Tom here today.