Through Good Times and Bad: Husband Has Retaliation Claim Based on Assisting Spouse’s Pregnancy Discrimination Claim

By Chance Hill

A federal district court in Kansas denied a car dealership’s motion for summary judgment regarding a former sales manager’s retaliation claims.  Specifically, the sales manager contended that the company fired him because he became emotional in a meeting with HR over his wife’s charge of pregnancy discrimination against the dealership.  The sales manager argued that the company retaliated against him either for his participation in the internal investigation or simply because his wife had filed the discrimination charge.  Whatever the exact reason, the court determined that a jury could reasonably reject the dealership’s explanations for the termination as pretexts for retaliation, given the close timing between the investigation and the termination and variations among the dealership’s explanations for the termination.

Employers need to remember that association with a person who engaged in protected conduct (e.g. filing a Charge) might be enough of a basis for a retaliation claim.