Thompson v. North American Stainless, LP Case Brief Summary | Law Case Explained

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Thompson v. North American Stainless, LP | 562 U.S. 170 (2011)

A federal civil rights statute includes an antiretaliation provision prohibiting an employer from discriminating against an employee because she has blown the whistle on the employer’s illegal conduct. But what if an employer retaliates, not against the whistleblower directly, but against a loved one? That’s the situation presented in Thompson versus North American Stainless.

Eric Thompson and his fiancée, Miriam Regalado, both worked for steel manufacturer North American Stainless. Regalado claimed the company discriminated against her based on her gender, and she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

To encourage employees to report unlawful employment practices, Title Seven of the Civil Rights Act of nineteen sixty-four contains an antiretaliation provision. Specifically, the provision prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee for engaging in protected activity, for example, filing a charge of discrimination.

Three weeks after Regalado made her gender-discrimination complaint, the company fired Thompson. Thompson sued the company, alleging that his firing violated the antiretaliation provision.

The district court reasoned that Title Seven doesn’t allow third-party retaliation claims. On that basis, it entered summary judgment for the company. The Sixth Circuit initially reversed. After a rehearing en banc, the Sixth Circuit affirmed. The Supreme Court granted cert.

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