Twist on bias headed for Supreme Court? Cat’s paw theory claws back

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in Firing,HR Management,Human Resources

by David B. Ritter and Sonya Rosenberg, Esqs.

After taking a back seat to other employment issues on the U.S. Supreme Court’s agenda, the “cat’s paw” theory of liability may well be coming back into the spotlight, and employers better be ready.

The term “cat’s paw” refers to situations in which an immediate supervisor discriminatorily influences the ultimate decision-maker to discipline or terminate an employee under seemingly legitimate pretenses.

Depending on the facts of a given cat’s paw case, the ultimate decision-maker, who is always unaware of the intermediary manager’s discriminatory motive, may either rubberstamp the termination recommendation or agree to termination after conducting his or her own evaluation of the facts.

Federal appeals courts differ

In holding an employer liable for unlawful discrimination, federal courts of appeal are split on the appropriate level of control exerted by the biased s...(register to read more)

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