Supreme Court to Hear Argument on Supervisor Liability Under Title VII

Although the Supreme Court previously held under Title VII that a company can be vicariously liable for harassment by an employee’s supervisor, Circuits have split on the issue of whether a qualifying supervisor must have the authority to take formal action against the employee.  (Absent vicarious liability, an employee usually must prove that a company was negligent in failing to remedy a harassment complaint.)  Some Circuits find that the “Supervisor Rule” applies to any supervisor who oversees an employee’s daily work, while other require that the supervisor have the authority to fire, demote or otherwise discipline the employee.  Oral arguments are scheduled for November 2012 in Vance v. Ball St. Univ., which should resolve the Circuit split.

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