New 'Supervisor' Definitions Could Increase Discrimination Lawsuits

Is your pending discrimination case “frivolous” litigation Many racial discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits could be thrown out as such next year, depending how the U.S. Supreme Court decides to clarify its definition of “supervisor” and “coworker.”


Justices recently held an hour-long oral argument to discuss whether a person without the ability to hire or discipline employees can qualify as a supervisor in racial, sexual and religious discrimination cases. An employer automatically assumes liability if a supervisor is accused of harassment; when a coworker is accused, the victim must prove neglect on the part of the employer to extend liability.

Liable for Discrimination

The debate stems from the Vance v. Ball State University racial discrimination case, in which Mattea Vance claimed her “supervisor,” Sandra Davis, created a racially hostile working environment.

The federal courtwhich had defined a supervisor as the power to hire, fire, demote or disciplinethrew out Vance’s case, as Davis’ job responsibilities did not include these functions. Vance appealed because the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) defines “supervisor” as anyone who has authority to assign or direct daily work activities or recommend employment actions. Listen to the radio broadcast to learn more.

“There are lots of situations where people have power over other employees when they don’t have the power to fire them, to discipline them, to promote them, to set their wages or things like that,” says University of Virginia law professor Daniel Ortiz, who represents Vance. The AARP and National Partnership for Women & Families also are backing Vance.

“This is consistent with workplaces across America today, where jobs are less hierarchical, more collaborative, and so where you have got more senior employees by virtue of their experience or job title, just a paper title, are in a broad sense team leaders of the like in the workplace,” Gregory Garre, representing the university, told CNN. “That doesn’t mean they are supervisors in any traditional sense.”

Will Discrimination Lawsuits Increase

If the Supreme Court rules in Vance’s favor, it could potentially increase the number of discrimination cases that actually make it to court. The conservative justices argued that a less-restrictive standard could leave companies suffering for the acts of mid-level employees, which would fall under scrutiny.

A decision is not expected until sometime after winter 2013.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Latest News

Building More Diverse and Inclusive Workplaces

Originally published on info.kpmg.us by Candace Rivera. Over the past several years, corporate business resource groups – employee-led groups of volunteers who work together to strengthen inclusion and diversity – have evolved from networking groups to proactive enablers which support an organization’s business strategy and talent management agendas. It’s an…

Wells Fargo Advisors Offers Zero Commission Investing Opportunity

Originally published on newsroom.wf.com. Wells Fargo Advisors today announced $0 trades on the WellsTrade® self-directed trading platform for stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs). “WellsTrade offers investors an online solution to make independent investment decisions. We know do-it-yourself trading is one of several ways investors manage their money,” said Jim Hays, president of…

Mastercard and Doconomy Extend Collaboration to Deliver a More Sustainable Future

Originally published on Mastercard.com. S&P Global Joins Effort to Power Global Platform Available to All Issuers Further Support Provided by Mastercard Investment in Doconomy Madrid COP25, December 10, 2019 – Doconomy and Mastercard today extended their joint effort to combat climate change. Moving beyond previously announced programs, this new arrangement brings the ability…

As Change Accelerates, Insurers Need Profound Transformation and the Right Talent, Reveals EY Insurance Outlook 2020

Originally posted on EY.com Declining interest rates, changing customer expectations and shifting demographics are defining the future of insurance Insurers must strike the right balance between achieving operational excellence and investing in technology-led innovation As insurance industry growth remains stagnant for another year due to low interest rates, the shifts…