Democrats seek to undo 2013 Supreme Court ruling defining workplace “supervisor”

Thumbnail image for CapitolHill.jpgHas the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Vance v. Ball State been keeping you up at night?

*** logs IP numbers; obtains restraining orders ***

Well, ok. I can see why some of you are sour on the 2013 Supreme Court decision holding that an employee is a “supervisor” for purposes of vicarious liability under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 only if he or she is empowered by the employer to take tangible employment actions against the victim. 

(See my post on Vance here).

Whether a harasser is a supervisor matters because if the harassing supervisor fires, suspends, or takes some other similar action against the victim, the employer ends up writing a huge check. Otherwise, the employer has some outs arising from the same affirmative defense discussed in yesterday’s post.

Seeking to deliver a proverbial football to the Vance decision groin undo the Court’s decision in Vance, last week, Democrats in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives proposed legislation (Senate – here; House here), which would define “supervisor” to include those with authority to direct people’s day-to-day work. And, according to this fact sheet, the bills would extend coverage to all federal anti-discrimination statutes.

Whether this legislation passes, take the opportunity to remind supervisors and non-supervisors alike that violations of your respect-in-the workplace will result in discipline, up to and including termination of employment.

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