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Total Articles: 13

Applicant’s Claim That Racially Biased Safety Officer Cancelled His Split Specimen Drug Test Was Insufficient to Establish Race Discrimination Under Cat’s Paw Theory

An employer that refused to hire an applicant based on a positive pre-employment drug test was entitled to summary judgment on the applicant’s race discrimination and civil conspiracy claims despite the applicant’s argument that the company safety officer cancelled his split specimen drug test due to discriminatory animus, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Turner v. Hirschbach Motor Lines, Case No. 15-3263 (7th Cir. Apr. 24, 2017).

Beware the Cat’s Paw: Employer Liability for Harassment Expanded

The Second Circuit has expanded a theory of liability that can be asserted against employers. Previously, the Second Circuit had not ruled on whether an employer can be held liable for the actions of a lower-level employee with a discriminatory motive who manipulates an unwitting manager or employer into engaging in an adverse employment action. In Vazquez v. Empress Ambulance Service, Ms. Vazquez accused a co-worker of sexual harassment and outlined in detail obscene and blatant actions taken by the co-worker that constituted sexual harassment.

Second Circuit Adopts “Cat’s Paw” Theory of Imputing Nonsupervisory Employee’s Retaliatory Intent to Employer

In Vasquez v. Empress Ambulance Service, Inc., No. 15-3239-cv (August 29, 2016), the Second Circuit Court of Appeals set new precedent when it held that an employer may be held liable for the retaliatory intent of a nonsupervisory employee under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Cat Is Out of the Bag: Second Circuit Rules Cat’s Paw Theory Applies to Nonmanagerial Coworkers

Rarely has the maxim “hard cases make bad law” found greater application than in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent decision to expand the “cat’s paw” doctrine adopted by the Supreme Court of the United States in 2011. Under the cat’s paw doctrine, an employer may be liable for discrimination or retaliation if it is unwittingly manipulated into taking an adverse employment action against an employee by a coworker with a discriminatory or retaliatory motive.

Cat’s Paw Theory Of Discrimination Adopted By 2nd Circuit

False Sexting Claims Prove Employer’s Downfall

Fifth Circuit Reverses Summary Judgment in Favor of Franchisor Not Named in Charge of Discrimination

What do these famous words from Romeo and Juliet, downplaying the importance of names, have to do with discrimination litigation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Despite Juliet’s musings, names play an important role for an employee who, in filing a charge of discrimination, must satisfy Title VII’s naming requirement. This is because an employee who fails to properly name defendants in a charge of discrimination provides the employer a defense to later litigation.

Questions Raised Regarding Who Qualifies as a Supervisor

In a case that could impact employers everywhere, Vance v. Ball State University, Docket No. 11-556, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering who qualifies as a supervisor pursuant to Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775 (1998), and Burlington Industries v. Ellerth, 524 U.S. 742 (1998). Or maybe not.

Yes Virginia, the Supreme Court Does Matter - A Cat's Paw in the 5th Circuit

Although as an object fact we know that it is important when the Supreme Court issues a decision, see my discussion just above about the importance of a SOX case that will be decided next term, but it never hurts to be reminded.

Supreme Court Decision Will Alter the Scope of Discrimination and Harassment Law Under Title VII

The United States Supreme Court recently heard oral argument in the matter of Vance v. Ball State University (Docket No. 11-556) on November 26, 2012, a case which is poised to resolve an important split among federal circuits and could reshape the scope of supervisor liability in sexual harassment and discrimination cases.

Appellate, District Courts Expand on “Cat’s Paw” Discrimination Theory

In March 2011, we discussed the Supreme Court’s expansion of the “cat’s paw” discrimination theory in Staub v. Proctor Hospital. The Court held that Title VII could impose liability on employers for discrimination if the decision maker acts as the “cat’s paw” and relies on input from lower-level supervisors who have discriminatory intent, even if the decision maker did not share those discriminatory motives. This summer, the Sixth Circuit and various district courts have started to better define, and even suggest expansions to, the cat’s paw theory.

Are You Being Duped by a Malicious Monkey?

Do you have a malicious monkey in your workplace? Employers can be liable for discrimination when they act on recommendations based on a subordinate’s discriminatory animus.

Seventh Circuit Decision Says Under “Cat’s Paw” Theory Individual Supervisor May be Held Liable for Causing the Employer to Retaliate Against Employee June 7, 2012

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently concluded, in an issue of first impression, that an employee who does not directly make the decision to terminate another employee, but who influences that decision on the basis of an impermissible bias, may be held individually liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 in a subsequent lawsuit.

Employer Can Avoid Liability by Conducting Independent Investigation of Allegations Made by Biased Supervisor Against Minority Subordinate.

Under anti-discrimination statutes, an employee can bring a retaliation claim under a theory of liability referred to as a “subordinate bias” theory – also referred to as the “cat’s paw” theory” - in which the employee can claim that an adverse action ostensibly brought by a high-level company decision-maker was, in actuality, based upon the biased recommendation of a lower level manager or supervisor. The Supreme Court implicitly approved this rationale in Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products in 2000, a case in which a company president followed a recommendation of the director of manufacturing (who, coincidentally, was also her husband) to discharge an employee for falsifying company payroll records. Because evidence existed to show that the director of manufacturing had generated misleading data to justify the termination, and that he was the “actual” decision-maker, the company was not entitled to judgment as a matter of law against the employee.