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Vance v. Ball St. University (US 2013)

Articles Discussing Case:

U.S. Supreme Court Clarifies Definition of Supervisor for Title VII Claims and Rejects Broad Interpretation

Goldberg Segalla LLP • July 02, 2013
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a much anticipated ruling in a 5-4 decision which will help employers defend themselves against Title VII actions involving supervisors. In an earlier alert, we discussed the salient facts of Vance v. Ball State University, No. 11-556, Supreme Court of the United States (June 24, 2013), and the splits in the federal circuits over the definition of supervisor for purposes of vicarious liability under Title VII.

Supreme Court Hands Down Victory for Employers

Brody and Associates, LLC • July 01, 2013
The United States Supreme Court issued a decision in Vance v. Ball State University that makes it easier for employers to defend against harassment suits. When an employee is harassed by a co-worker on the basis of a protected status, such as race or sex, the company is liable only if it knew or had reason to know about the harassment and failed to address it. If the harasser is the employee’s “supervisor,” a stricter standard applies. Generally, the employer is “vicariously liable” for the actions of the supervisor, even if nobody else knew about the harassment. The Vance decision resolves the question of who is a supervisor, defining it as someone who has the ability to take “tangible employment actions,” rather than someone who merely oversees the employee’s work.

Let's Get a Grip, Employees' Rights Did Not End Yesterday

Ogletree Deakins • June 26, 2013
Reporting is no easy task. But I have heard several reports concerning the two Supreme Court decisions yesterday that convey misleading information, or at least don't put it in proper context. An example is By 5-4, a More Hostile Workplace by New York Times editorial board member Teresa Tritch.

Supreme Court Clarifies Title VII’s Definition of “Supervisor” for Harassment Claims

Franczek Radelet P.C • June 26, 2013
Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court decided Vance v. Ball State University, ruling that only those employees who have the authority to take “tangible employment actions” qualify as supervisors for purposes of harassment claims brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Since the Supreme Court’s 1998 decisions in Faragher and Ellerth, the applicable standards for evaluating harassment claims have differed depending not only upon the nature of the conduct, but also upon the status of the employee accused of the harassing behavior. Where the alleged harasser is a “supervisor,” the employer is automatically liable for any harassment that results in a tangible employment action (as described below). Even with respect to harassment that does not result in a tangible employment action, an employer can only avoid liability for a supervisor’s harassment if (i) the employer can prove that it took reasonable measures to prevent and correct harassment; and (ii) the employer can also prove that the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of the employer’s anti-harassment policies and procedures. By contrast, co-worker harassment only exposes an employer to liability if the employee can prove that the employer negligently failed to discover or remedy the harassment. Clearly, the proper definition of “supervisor” is of enormous significance in analyzing an employer’s potential harassment liability under Title VII.

Legal Alert: Supreme Court Adopts Narrow Definition of Supervisor Under Title VII

FordHarrison LLP • June 26, 2013
Executive Summary: On June 24, 2013, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion favorable to employers, determining the term "supervisor" under Title VII should be defined narrowly. In Vance v. Ball State University, the Court limited employers' vicarious liability for workplace harassment by a "supervisor" to harassing conduct by persons with authority to take tangible employment actions (hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer, discipline) against the victim. For the first time defining "supervisor" for Title VII purposes, the Court defined it narrowly and favorably to employers. The Court split 5-4 along ideological lines with Justice Alito writing the majority opinion for the conservative wing of the Court. Justice Ginsburg was joined in her dissent by Justices Sotomayor, Breyer, and Kagan.

Supreme Court Confirms The Definition Of "Supervisor" Under Title VII

Fisher Phillips • June 25, 2013
On June 24, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court held that, for purposes of employer liability for harassment under Title VII, a supervisor is defined as someone who can undertake or effectively recommend tangible employment decisions affecting the victim, in other words, someone who can make a “significant change in employment status, such as hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a decision causing a significant change in benefits.” Vance v. Ball State University.

Supreme Court Adopts Narrow Definition of Supervisor for Harassment Law

Ogletree Deakins • June 25, 2013
Justice Alito writing for the court succinctly sets out today's holding in Vance v. Ball State (S.Ct. 6/24/13)