In a 5-4 decision that represents a major victory for employers, the U.S. Supreme Court held that an employee must have the power to take tangible employment actions against another worker in order to be considered a supervisor for vicarious liability purposes under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (“Title VII”).
The case, Vance v. Ball State University, concerned Maetta Vance, an African-American woman employed as a catering assistant by Ball State University. Vance alleged that another Ball State employee, Saundra Davis, had been harassing her. Specifically, it was alleged that Davis, a white woman, had been racially harassing and discriminating against Vance by intimidating her and “[giving] her a hard time at work.” Davis filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), and Ball State attempted to address the problem. Nevertheless, the intimidation and harassment continued, and Vance filed suit under Title VII in an attempt to hold the University liable for the harassment. Continue reading