I thought I would give another update on EEOC enforcement strategies. Citing the case of Thompson v. North American Stainless,LP., 131 S.Ct. 863 (2011), EEOC made reference to discrimination against a person due to his/her association with a person in a protected class.
Miriam Regalado was Eric Thompson's fiancee. She filed a complaint with the EEOC alleging sex discrimination. The company fired Eric who then claimed that he suffered retaliation because Miriam had filed her complaint.
The Supreme Court concluded that a person could file suit under Title VII if (s)he was a person aggrieved. The test to determine if the person was aggrieved is whether or not (s)he was in the "zone of interests" sought to be protected by the law. In this case, Eric was within the zone of interests. He was an employee of the company. Title VII was written to protect employees.
Expect substantial litigation over the next few years on the issue of who might be within the zone of interests and thus a person aggrieved.
Don't forget as well that in California, a person is protected by the Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA") if: (1) The person is in a protected class; (2) the person is associated with a person in a protected class; (3) the person is associated with a person who the employer perceives to be in a protected class; and (4) a person who the employer perceives to be associated with a person the employer perceives to be in a protected class.
Wow! That's a mouthful. It's also another litigation nightmare for California employers. Laws like this keep me employed.
Email me if you need help avoiding or defending a claim made by a person within this zone of interests.