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Court punts on blaming employer for subordinate’s bias

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Pennsylvania employers, has dodged deciding whether a subordinate’s bias can be imputed to the employer.

Recent case: When Orlando became a supervisor at a social services agency, two female co-workers became his subordinates. They clashed and Orlando’s supervisor had to settle many arguments. Then, after a particularly contentious meeting, one women declared she was going to get Orlando fired. Sometime later, he was fired for making mistakes on a case that woman was handling.

He sued, alleging that the woman was out to get him because he is a man and that, by extension, the employer had also discriminated against him on the basis of sex.

The court said it didn’t need to consider that argument because Orlando’s work-related mistakes were clear. (Smith v. Comhar, 3rd Cir., 2018)

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