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7th Circuit rejects ‘cat’s paw’ theory in age discrimination claim

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

The “cat’s paw” theory of liability refers to a biased supervisor who discriminates against an employee based on a protected characteristic (such as age) and influences an unbiased decision-maker to terminate the employee under legitimate pretenses.

The recent 7th Circuit decision in Lindsey v. Walgreen Co. (No. 10-1036, 7th Cir., 2010) addresses the cat’s paw theory of liability in the context of an age discrimination claim. The court held that a supervisor who decided to fire an employee was not the “cat’s paw” because she did not rely solely on the employee’s allegedly biased supervisor.

Dangerous interaction

Katie Lindsey worked as a pharmacist at a Walgreens store and was promoted to pharmacy manager by Connie Jenkins, the district pharmacy supervisor.

However, Walgreens received complaints that Lindsey violated company policies when she filled expired prescriptions and offered unauthorized discounts. Jenkins demoted Li...(register to read more)

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