The Supreme Court, in overturning a federal court, has clarified discrimination claims involving the unique circumstance in which a "close family member"—in this case, a fiancé—is terminated because of actions by another family member, in this case, the fiancée.

The case in question was Thompson v. North American Stainless.  Thompson was terminated after his fiancée filed a sexual harassment charge against the company. He then filed his own discrimination lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and lost all the way up to federal court. In stepped the U.S. Supreme Court with its reversal and clarification.

SCOTUS ruled that terminating a "close family member" of the person making the claim of discrimination would "almost always" establish the bases for a claim of unlawful reprisal, while terminating "a mere acquaintance" would "almost never" establish an unlawful reprisal.

Harassment and discrimination in the workplace is a danger-ridden area for employers. For programs and kits to help you as the employer, please visit our Harassment & Discrimination Web section.