Cat's Paw

News & Analysis as of

Employment Law Letter - Fall 2016

Connecticut’s system of workers compensation has been in place for over a century with few major changes, and yet it seems we keep coming up with unique circumstances that raise new questions. We’d be surprised if our readers...more

Second Circuit “Purrs” On Cat’s Paw Liability Case

Seyfarth Synopsis: Recently, the Second Circuit held that the “cat’s paw” theory of liability may be used to support recovery for claims of retaliation where an employer negligently relies on information provided by a...more

Watch Out for the Cat’s Paw - Employers May Be Accountable for Low-Level Employee Actions

In the world of employment law, there is something called the “Cat’s Paw” theory of liability. The name comes from a fable dating back to the 17th century in which a clever monkey persuades a naïve cat to pull roasting...more

Cat’s Paw Making New Tracks: Second Circuit Extends Cat’s Paw Principle to Retaliation Claims and to Low-Level Employees

The “cat’s paw” doctrine, a concept first coined by Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner in 1990 and adopted by the Supreme Court in 2011, applies when an employee is subjected to an adverse employment action by a decision...more

Don’t Be A Cat’s-Paw

Most sexual harassment policies include a procedure to investigate complaints, often specifying that the investigation will be timely and thorough, and may include interviews with the employees involved, witnesses, and anyone...more

Employers Beware of the Cat's Paw

The cat scratches again! Five years ago, the United States Supreme Court handed down Staub v. Proctor Hospital, wherein it held that an employer may be liable for a supervisor's discriminatory animus when the independent...more

Second Circuit Adopts “Cat’s Paw” Theory of Imputing Nonsupervisory Employee’s Retaliatory Intent to Employer

In Vasquez v. Empress Ambulance Service, Inc., No. 15-3239-cv (August 29, 2016), the Second Circuit Court of Appeals set new precedent when it held that an employer may be held liable for the retaliatory intent of a...more

Employment Law This Week®: Retaliation Guidance, Class Action Waivers, “Persuader Rule” Injunction, “Cat’s Paw” Doctrine [Video]

We invite you to view Employment Law This Week® - a weekly rundown of the latest news in the field, brought to you by Epstein Becker Green. We look at the latest trends, important court decisions, and new developments that...more

Ambulance Service Liable for Sexting Monkey?

An ambulance service may be liable for damages arising from sexting by a monkey it employed, the Second Circuit ruled on August 29. Actually, the monkey was a man, but the court sided with a female employee who sued the...more

Employees Find “Cat’s Paw” Theory to be the Cat’s Meow

Employees are continuing to find success with the “cat’s paw” theory to prove employment discrimination, evidenced by two recent federal court decisions. The “cat’s paw” theory references an old Aesop’s fable in which a...more

The Cat Is Out of the Bag: Second Circuit Rules Cat’s Paw Theory Applies to Nonmanagerial Coworkers

Rarely has the maxim “hard cases make bad law” found greater application than in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent decision to expand the “cat’s paw” doctrine adopted by the Supreme Court of the United States in...more

The Monkey and the Cat: Second Circuit Adopts “Cat’s Paw” Theory of Liability for the Acts of a Non-Supervisory Employee in Title...

On August 29, 2016, a unanimous panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit revived a retaliation lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 under the “cat’s paw” theory of liability. In...more

About that new “cat’s paw” decision . . .

Employers should beware of being too quick to believe an employee who accuses a co-worker of wrongdoing. If the accuser has an illegal motive (such as discrimination or retaliation), and if the employer is “negligent” in...more

Second Circuit Adopts “Cat’s Paw” Theory for Discrimination and Retaliation Cases

Are you familiar with the "Cat's Paw" theory of liability for discrimination and retaliation claims? This theory derives from a story that appeared in Aesop’s Fables and involves a cat that is manipulated by a monkey into...more

Second Circuit Reverses Dismissal Of Retaliation Claim Citing Cat’s Paw Liability

The Second Circuit recently invoked a 17th century fable in reviving an employee’s retaliation claim against her employer even where the employer had no retaliatory intent. In Vasquez v. Empress Ambulance Service, SDNY,...more

Second Circuit Holds That Non-Supervisory Employee’s Retaliatory Intent May Be Imputed to an Employer Under Title VII

In Vasquez v. Empress Ambulance Service, Inc., the Second Circuit adopted the “cat’s paw” theory of liability under Title VII and held that the retaliatory intent of a low-level, non-supervisory employee may be imputed to an...more

Cat’s Paw Theory Of Discrimination Adopted By 2nd Circuit - False Sexting Claims Prove Employer’s Downfall

The federal appeals court in New York just adopted a broad standard for employer liability as a consequence of discriminatory acts by their employees. This standard opens the door to a significant increase in claims being...more

Quirky Question #287: “Cat’s Paw” Claims – How could an employer violate antidiscrimination laws, even though the decision-making...

Question: We just went through a five-person layoff, and one of the individuals laid off (an African American) has hired a lawyer and is threatening to sue for racial discrimination. I have enormous confidence in the fairness...more

“Cat’s Paw” Liability in Faculty Decision-Making

Children’s fables are often an overlooked source of wisdom. Take for example Aesop’s 17th century fable “The Monkey and the Cat.” As the story goes, a cat and monkey lived in the same house as pets. The monkey, desiring...more

The Cat Fights Back: 7th Circuit Discusses Cat's Paw Theory Post-Staub

In 2011, the United States Supreme Court made the"cat's paw" theory of liability significantly easier for employees to prove. An employee can establish a cat's paw theory of liability in an employment discrimination suit when...more

Cat’s Paw, Part II: “Termination Review” by Independent Decision Makers Can Break the Causal Chain

Last week, we wrote about the “Cat’s Paw” theory of liability —where a person is used unwittingly to accomplish another person’s discriminatory purpose in the workplace. A common example would be when a racist employee...more

Curing Cat’s-Paw

In a Title VII retaliation claim, a plaintiff has to prove protected conduct was the “but-for” cause of the materially adverse action. Can a plaintiff prove “but-for” causation relying on the supposed retaliatory animus of...more

“Cat’s Paw” – Or Perhaps “Tiger’s Paw” Theory Now

For those interested in the origin, the term “cat’s paw” derives from a fable of a monkey who employs flattery to convince a cat to pull chestnuts out of a fire. Today the term commonly refers to a person used unwittingly or...more

Can Employers in the Fifth Circuit Be Liable for Retaliation Under Title VII When the Decision Maker Had No Retaliatory Motive?

In Zamora v. City of Houston, 14-20125 (Aug. 19, 2015), the Fifth Circuit joined the Sixth, Eighth, and Tenth Circuits in holding that the “cat’s paw” theory of causation can also be utilized in Title VII retaliation cases,...more

Third Circuit Issues Employer-Friendly Ruling in Discrimination and Retaliation Case

On August 12, 2015, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued a precedential opinion in Jones v. SEPTA, a discrimination and retaliation claim brought by a former employee of the Philadelphia-area transit agency. The Third...more

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