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Associational Discrimination

Associational Discrimination

Definition

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."

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