Clarifying the Cat’s Paw: Just How Independent Does “Independent” Have to Be?


Earlier in the year, the Supreme Court unanimously held in a landmark decision that employers could be liable for employment decisions influenced by managers or supervisors who had unlawful motives. Although the Court indicated that an independent review could help shield the employer from so-called “cat’s paw” liability, the opinion did little to define what type of internal review or investigation would cure the problem.

A recent decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) leaves employers wondering whether the “cat’s paw” has even longer claws than originally suspected.

In short, the Third Circuit held that a decision may be suspect even though...

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