In assessing whether a terminated employee has any protection under the law, it is important to determine if the employee is “associated” with another employee who has previously filed a discrimination claim. In Tasco v. Intern’l Brotherhood Elec. Workers, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17918 (E. D. Pa. February 8, 2013)(Robreno, J), the plaintiff’ was employed as a union business agent. The plaintiff’s son, who was also employed by Defendant, applied for an apprenticeship program, was rejected and fired shortly afterwards. The son filed an EEOC complaint for race discrimination. Upon receiving the complaint, according to Plaintiff, Defendant’s Business Manager indicated that he would retaliate against anyone and everyone who “does this to me” (meaning file a complaint) and stated that he could not” ‘have them on my team.” Plaintiff alleged that her employment was terminated because Defendant believed she had assisted her son in filing a discrimination charge against Defendant.
In Tasco, the Court held that the Plaintiff’s retaliation claim is viable and could proceed to trial, noting that the Third Circuit has recognized that a retaliation claim when an employee is terminated as a result of a perception that he or she has assisted a family member with a charge of discrimination. See Fogleman v. Mercy Hosp., Inc., 283 F.3d 561 (3d Cir. 2002)(an employer’s discharge of an employee for discriminatory reasons amounts to illegal retaliation even if it is based on the employer’s mistaken belief that the employee engaged in protected activity). The Court also noted that the timing of the retaliatory action need not be immediate, noting, there is no set timeline in which a retaliatory event must occur to establish a claim of retaliation. See Kachmar v. SunGard Data Systems, Inc., 109 F.3d 173, 178 (3d Cir. 1997).
The Court’s decision in Tasco points out a frequent theme which experienced employment law attorneys know, given the proof standards in our employment laws, it is often much easier to prove retaliation than discrimination where there is only indirect evidence of discrimination. For more information about Retaliation Claims and Abramson Employment Law see http://www.job-discrimination.com/lawyer-attorney-1126498.html.