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Employment Law Blog
James Tarquin, P.A
As part of our commitment to assist and educate employees in fighting back against the abusive employment practices of employers, we offer a broad range of information about employment law issues in our employment blog.

Is It Unlawful For An Employer To Retaliate Against An Employee’s Family Member?

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Having represented retaliation victims for more than twenty years, our Marion County, Florida workplace retaliation attorneys know that employees who complain about workplace discrimination are often subjected to unlawful retaliation. In some cases, our Ocala, Florida workplace retaliation lawyers have learned, employers even retaliate against a complaining employee’s family member. In Thompson v. North America Stainless, LP, 562 U.S. 170 (2011), the U.S. Supreme Court determined that when an employee complains about workplace discrimination, federal employment discrimination law prohibits employers from retaliating against the complaining employee’s family member when that family member is also employed by the employer. The Thompson  Court further determined that when an employer retaliates against a family member under such circumstances, the family member can bring a retaliation claim under federal employment discrimination law.

In this article, our Marion County, Florida workplace retaliation attorneys explain how a retaliation lawsuit recently settled by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) illustrates the broad protection against retaliation afforded by federal employment discrimination law to family members.

Workplace Retaliation Lawsuit

In a press release issued on July 26, 2021, the EEOC announced that it has entered into a Consent Decree resolving sex discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against NDI Office Furniture, LLC (NDI). On September 28, 2018, the EEOC filed the lawsuit, U.S. E.E.O.C. v. NDI Office Furniture, LLC, Case No. 2:18-cv-1592, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Northern Alabama. In the Consent Decree, which was endorsed by U.S. District Court Judge R. David Proctor on July 23, 2021, NDI agreed to pay $150,000 to resolve the sex discrimination and retaliation lawsuit.

Protection From Workplace Retaliation

The EEOC brought the sex discrimination and retaliation lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). Title VII makes it an unlawful employment practice for employers to discriminate against employees or job applicants on the basis of sex. Title VII also protects employees and job applicants from retaliation when they complain about perceived sex discrimination. The EEOC brought the sex discrimination claim on behalf of an individual, Alicia Jenkins (Alicia), who applied for employment with NDI. The EEOC claims that NDI violated Title VII by failing to hire Alicia because of her sex. The EEOC brought the retaliation claim on behalf of a former employee of NDI, Arceneaux Jenkins (Arceneaux). Arceneaux is the son of Alicia. The EEOC claims that NDI retaliated against Arceneaux in violation of Title VII by firing him because his mother lodged a sex discrimination complaint with NDI.

Alleged Retaliation Against Family Member

In August 2015, Alicia, through her son Arceneaux, who worked at NDI’s warehouse in Birmingham, Alabama, learned of a job opening for a customer service representative position at that warehouse. On August 31, 2015, Alicia went to the NDI warehouse and spoke with the General Manager and expressed an interest in applying for the position. In response, the General Manager explained that NDI “does not hire women in the warehouse.” The General Manager, according to the EEOC, told Alicia that because of her looks, the “men would not get any work done” if she worked in the warehouse. The General Manager further explained that “corporate” did not want females in the warehouse because the men would not work and would look at the females all day.

In response, Alicia immediately complained to the General Manager that not hiring women was discriminatory. Before leaving the warehouse, Alicia also called NDI’s corporate headquarters to complain about its discriminatory policy. On September 7, 2015, Alicia leaned through her son that NDI had hired a man to fill the customer service position. On September 11, 2015, NDI fired Arceneaux. The EEOC maintains that NDI fired Arceneaux in retaliation for his mother’s sex discrimination complaint. Because Arceneaux is a family member of Alicia and was employed by NDI, the EEOC maintains that Title VII protects Arceneaux from retaliation because of his mother’s sex discrimination complaint.

Lawyers For Retaliation Victims

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the federal government charged with interpreting and enforcing federal employment discrimination law. In order to protect employee rights, the EEOC brings lawsuits on behalf of employment discrimination victims. In a press release issued by the EEOC on July 26, 2021 regarding the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Birmingham District Office, Marsha Rucker, stated that “this case serves as a reminder of Title VII’s prohibition against third-party retaliation.” “Title VII’s protections against retaliation,” Ms. Rucker explained, “extend to third-party friends or family members of a party who filed a workplace discrimination complaint.” In commenting on the case, the Director of the EEOC’s Birmingham District Office, Bradley Anderson, observed that “employers should make employment decisions based on an applicant’s ability instead of outdated gender stereotypes.”

Marion County Workplace Retaliation Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Marion County, Florida workplace retaliation attorneys have litigated retaliation cases in Florida courts for more than two decades. If you have been retaliated against for exercising your employee rights or have questions about your protection from retaliation under federal employment discrimination law, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Ocala, Florida workplace retaliation lawyers.

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