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by Vault Careers | January 25, 2011


This just in from the department of things the Supreme Court really shouldn’t have had to weigh in on: it's not OK for employers to retaliate against or unlawfully dismiss your relatives if you've hit said employer with a discrimination complaint.

Who'd have thunk?

In an eight-page opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia, the court ruled Monday that existing federal anti-retaliation laws cover relatives—including, in the case at hand, a fiancé. The case had reached the Supreme Court after an appeals court had previously ruled that "the law only protected against retaliation against workers who file the discrimination claim."

In case behaving (or expecting your boss to behave) like a reasonable human being is beyond you, here's a practical example of what the ruling means:

Employee A and Employee B are related. Both work for Manager X.

Employee A files a discrimination complaint against Manager X. Manager X is peeved.

Under the appeals court ruling, Manager X could have retaliated by firing Employee B—thereby turning one case of discrimination (whether proven or not) into two.

Under the ruling handed down by the Supremes, however, Manager X is no longer allowed to fire (or demote, or cut the pay of, or … well, you get the idea) Employee B with the express intention of hurting Employee A.

Instead, Manager X now has to work a little harder to get rid of Employee B. At the very least, they have to trump up some "evidence" to justify a dismissal.

We can all sleep a little better knowing that, now, can't we?

Read More:

Reuters: US top court upholds anti-bias law protections

--Phil Stott,


Filed Under: Workplace Issues