The Supreme Court handed down two significant Title VII decisions this week giving pro-business groups a clear victory, and dividing predictably along partisan lines -- the five Republican-appointed justices in the majority and the four Democratic-appointed justices collaborating on dissents.
At issue were (1) the definition of the word “supervisor” as it pertains to the individuals at a company whose acts of harassment the company can be held vicariously liable for; and (2) the standards for imposing retaliation liability on employers. In the first case, the court narrowed the definition of “supervisor,” holding that, "An employer can be vicariously liable for an employee's unlawful harassment only when the employer has empowered that employee to take tangible employment actions against the victim.” In the second case, the court narrowed the rights of employees who claim retaliation for complaining about employment discrimination.
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