Labor: U.S. Supreme Court Expands Employer Liability in Recent Decisions

In March 2011, the United States Supreme Court issued two decisions that created more employer liability for workplace discrimination and retaliation against employees.

In the first case, Staub v. Proctor Hospital, decided on March 1, the Supreme Court recognized for the first time the "cat's paw" theory of employer liability in employment discrimination cases whereby an employer may be blamed if the discriminatory act of a low-level supervisor (such as an unjustified poor performance evaluation or warning) motivates the ultimate employment decision of a higher-level executive who may have been unaware of the supervisor's bias and who may have acted with a pure heart and without any intent to discriminate.

Paul E. Starkman

Paul Starkman is one of the leaders of the labor and employment law practice group at Pedersen & Houpt.

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