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U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court to Decide Who Qualifies as a Supervisor in Job Bias Suits

Posted Jun 26, 2012 9:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether an employee who oversees the work of a harassment complainant in a Title VII case can be a considered a supervisor absent the power to hire and fire.

The court granted cert on Monday in Vance v. Ball State University, report SCOTUSblog and Bloomberg News.

The court has previously held that an employer is vicariously liable when a supervisor creates a hostile work environment. If the harasser is a co-employee, on the other hand, the plaintiff must prove employer negligence, according to the cert petition (PDF).

The plaintiff is Ball State employee Maetta Vance, who was the only African American in the catering department. She claims that a co-worker who had the authority to direct her work had slapped her, threatened her and used racial epithets.

Updated on Nov. 27 to state that the issue concerns Title VII cases.

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