Oral argument: Dec. 7, 2010
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (June 5, 2009)
TITLE VII, RETALIATION, EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION, THIRD-PARTY STANDING
Petitioner Eric L. Thompson, a metallurgical engineer formerly employed by Respondent North American Stainless (“Stainless”), sued Stainless under Section 704(a) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, alleging that Stainless fired him in retaliation for a gender discrimination complaint his then-fiancée (and now wife) Miriam Regalado filed against Stainless with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). The Sixth Circuit found that Thompson did not have standing to sue Stainless and dismissed his complaint. Thompson argues that Title VII not only prohibits third-party retaliation but also gives third-party victims standing to sue, primarily because this furthers Title VII’s goal of eliminating discrimination and is consistent with the EEOC’s longstanding interpretation of Title VII. In opposition, Stainless argues that Section 704(a) does not give those third parties standing to sue the allegedly retaliating employer because permitting such an action would contradict congressional intent and unnecessarily curtail employers’ ability to manage their workforces.