The U.S. Supreme Court is currently scheduled to examine the "cat's paw" theory of liability for employment discrimination during its next term. The issue before the Court in a case entitled Staub v. Proctor Hospital is: "In what circumstances may an employer be held liable based on the unlawful intent of officials who caused or influenced but did not make [an] ultimate [negative] employment decision?"
The plaintiff in Staub, an Army reservist, sued his employer under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) after the company's vice president of Human Resources terminated his employment. According to Staub's theory of the case, the Human Resources V.P. acted as a "cat's paw" for non-decision makers who allegedly harbored anti-military animus and provided adverse information regarding plaintiff's professional conduct.