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associational discrimination

Workplace discrimination based on an employee's "association" with another individual, who comes within a protected classification (e.g., sex, race, religion) or who has engaged in protected activity (e.g., whistle-blowing). In Holcomb v. Iona Coll., 521 F.2d 130 (2d Cir. 2008), a Caucasian former assistant basketball coach alleged that he was terminated because his spouse was African-American. The U.S. Court of Appeals in New York agreed that this allegation was sufficient to state a claim of "associational" discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The court stated: "Where an employee is subjected to adverse action because an employer disapproves of interracial association, the employee suffers discrimination because of the employee's own race."

Links for IRMI Online Subscribers Only: EPLiC, Spring 2008; PLI XXI.B


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