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Supreme Court Defines "Supervisor" For Use in Determining an Employer's Liability in Workplace Harassment Cases

U.S. Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court has today adopted a strict definition of "supervisor" for use in determining an employer's liability in certain workplace harassment cases. In Vance v. Ball State University, the majority decided to adopt a narrow definition of "supervisor" as being a person empowered by the defendant employer to take "tangible employment actions" (such as hiring, firing, promotion or demotion, etc.) against the plaintiff to a workplace harassment claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under existing case law interpreting Title VII, an employer's liability for workplace harassment may be dependent on, among other things, whether the harassing employee was a supervisor or a co-worker.  

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