Supreme Court Ponders “Cat’s Paw” Liability - High Court Leaves Important Questions Unanswered


“Cat’s paw” liability arises when a well-intentioned employer acts on the recommendation of an employee intending to unlawfully discriminate against another. “In such a case, the recommender [uses] the decisionmaker as a mere conduit, or ‘cat’s paw’ to give effect to the recommender’s discriminatory animus.” Crawford v. Carroll, 529 F. 3d 961, 979 n. 21 (11th Cir. 2008) (citations omitted) Traditionally, an employer escapes “cat’s paw” liability by demonstrating that it conducted an independent investigation and did not simply rubberstamp the discriminating employee’s decisions.

On March 1, 2011, in an 8-0 decision (with Justice Kagan abstaining), the United States Supreme Court injected some uncertainty in defending against those claims. Staub v. Proctor Hospital, 562 U.S. ___ (2011).

Staub v. Proctor Hospital

Vincent Staub sued his former employer alleging his discharge violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, 38 U.S.C. § 4301 et seq. (USERRA).

Please see full Alert below for further information.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

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.

© King & Spalding | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


King & Spalding on:

Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:

Sign up to create your digest using LinkedIn*

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.