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associational discrimination

Associational discrimination is 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., whistleblowing).

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In Holcomb v. Iona Coll., 521 F.2d 130 (2d Cir. 2008), a white former assistant basketball coach alleged that he was terminated because his spouse was African-American. The US 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."