When making termination decisions, beware the cat’s paw

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Performance Reviews

by Casey Nolan, Esq.

Managers and HR professionals are often pulled in many directions at once and don’t always have time to independently review the personnel decisions that line supervisors make.

But simply rubber-stamping a direct supervisor’s recommendation and approving an adverse employment decision without independently reviewing it can have costly ramifications.

Under what’s commonly referred to as the “cat’s paw” theory, an employee can win a discrimination claim even if the employer successfully proves that the actual decision-maker didn’t intend to discriminate—or even knew that the employee was a member of a protected class.

The cat’s what?

The cat’s paw theory gets its name from a parable describing what happens when an innocent accomplice is duped into doing the bidding of someone who is up to no good. (See box below.)

In the employment discrimination context, the cat’s paw theory refers to a situation where a ...(register to read more)

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