• Who Is A Supervisor? The Supreme Court Provides Clarity
  • September 17, 2013
  • Law Firm: Wroten Associates Inc. - Irvine Office
  • As is often the case the U.S. Supreme Court finished up its term this year with several high profile cases. Lost in the shuffle was an important employment case, Vance v. Ball State University, No. 11-556, which clarified the meaning of the word "supervisor" for the purposes of vicarious liability in Title VII workplace harassment cases. The plaintiff in Vance alleged a catering specialist where she worked had created a racially harassing environment. The parties hotly contested whether the alleged harasser was plaintiff's supervisor. In a decision likely to warm the hearts of employers across the country, the Supreme Court held a "supervisor" is an individual with the authority to take "tangible job action" against the employee claiming harassment. That authority must include the ability to "hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer, or discipline."