Recent Pro-Employer Opinions by the Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court issued two employment law opinions at the end of June that are generally viewed as beneficial to employers.

In Vance v. Ball State University, the Supreme Court narrowed the definition of a “supervisor” as it relates to the determination of vicarious liability under Title VII. The Court held that a supervisor for purposes of Title VII liability is a person who has the power to take tangible employment action, meaning the ability to hire, fire, discipline, transfer, or promote. While the EEOC advocated for a far more broad definition including one with authority to direct daily work, the Court rejected such an expansive view of the term.

In University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, the Supreme Court held that “but for” causation was the appropriate standard of review for a retaliation claim. In other words, an employee must establish that, but for their protected activity, their employer would not have taken the adverse action against them. Opponents of this standard of review had advocated a lesser burden, arguing that an employee should only have to establish that the employers action was a “motivating factor” in the adverse action.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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