CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT No. 22 Vance v. Ball State Univ., 646 F.3d 461, 470 (7th Cir. Although workplace harassment falls outside the scope of an employee’s work, the Supreme Court has held employers liable where the employee’s supervisory role enabled the harassment. The case before the Court, Vance v. Ball State University , takes this question into consideration. Overall, if Vance wins, there will likely be an increased focus on immediate supervisors because directing daily work assignments increases the potential for and impact of abuse. Tangible employment actions include hiring and firing an employee or changing an employee’s work assignments. Title VII does not define “supervisor,” and there is no clear authority distinguishing between co-workers and supervisors. Both Vance and Ball State assert that the Seventh Circuit definition of “supervisor” does not meet the realities of the workplace and is too restrictive; however, the parties disagree how supervisor should be defined and whether the new definition could include the facts of this case. The Supreme Court granted certiorari and affirmed. Petitioner Maetta Vance contends that Saundra Davis, a catering specialist, had made Vance’s life at work contentious through physical acts and racial harassment. The next generation search tool for finding the right lawyer for you. The Seventh Circuit ruled that, in this context, a “supervisor” is restricted to employees with the power to hire, fire, promote, transfer, or discipline other employees. From a policy perspective, National Partnershipasserts that Title VII is less effective if it only applies to high-level supervisors and not to supervisors who control workers’ daily activities. Conversely, the United States Chamber of Commerce asserts that expanding employer liability to include direct supervisors, but not establishing a bright-line definition for supervisors, will leave employers without sufficient guidance and decrease incentives for prevention efforts. The term "supervisor," wrote the Court, has "varying meanings both in colloquial usage and in the law." VANCE v. BALL STATE UNIVERSITY et al. In Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775 (1998), and Burlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth, 524 U.S. 742 (1998), the Supreme Court held that under Title VII, an employer is vicariously liable for severe or pervasive workplace harassment by a supervisor of the victim. Sometime before 2001, Vance and co-worker Saundra Davis engaged in an oral altercation that ended with Davis’s slapping Vance in the head. Vance sued her employer, respondent Ball State University, for workplace harassment by a supervisor. Feb 1 2012 DISTRIBUTED for Conference of February 17, 2012. Argued November … The clinic will face Gregory Garre, a former U.S. solicitor general, who is representing Ball State University. Become your target audience’s go-to resource for today’s hottest topics. Automation law & tech construction - 5 ways of knowing the real scope of the work, Visa free visits to the Schengen countries - how to count 90 days within six months, 6 key questions to answer when analyzing project delays, Supreme Court decides Erica P. John Fund, inc. v. Halliburton co. et al, Illinois and New York state tax treatment of domestic partner health coverage, Supreme Court limits definition of “supervisor” under Title VII, A victory for employers: the Supreme Court narrows employer vicarious liability under Title VII, Supreme Court Narrows "Supervisor" Standard - and Employer's Liability - for Title VII Work Place Harassment Claims. In 1998, the Supreme Court decided two cases, Faragher v. City of Boca Raton and Burlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth , that found when an employee is harassed by another employee, the employer's liability depends on the status of the harassing employee. Petitioner Maetta Vance is an African-American woman who worked as a catering assistant for Ball State University (BSU). Start studying Chapter 7 & 8 Quiz. The Court provided a definition and test for a supervisor that will fit in with the Faragher and Ellerth analysis in employment law matters. In the decision below, the Seventh Circuit held that actionable harassment by a person whom the employer deemed a “supervisor” and who had the authority to direct and oversee the victim's daily work could not give rise to vicarious liability because the harasser did not also have the power to take formal employment actions against her. Overall, it is very likely that this decision will expand the Seventh Circuit definition of “supervisor;” however, the Supreme Court will decide how broad the definition should be and whether or not there will be limiting principles that provide further guidance regarding how the definition may be limited. Additionally, both courts found that Ball State had an adequate system in place for reporting and investigating claims of harassment under Title VII and thus the university could not be negligent. The District Court and Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit determined that Davis was not Vance’s supervisor because Davis did not have the power to direct the terms and conditions of Vance’s employment. Vance filed complaints with BSU and charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission related to her interactions with a fellow BSU employee, Saundra Davis, who is white. On Monday, the Nine will return to Washington to consider the future of employment lawsuits in Vance v.Ball State University.More specifically, who qualifies as a supervisor? In this case, the parties assert that a less restrictive reading of supervisor for the purposes of Title VII would be more consistent with those principles. I would recommend it to other attorneys.”, © Copyright 2006 - 2020 Law Business Research. Finding an employer liable for unlawful harassment by supervisors is now more difficult. Kimes investigated each of these incidents and after the May 2006 incident, Kimes and other managers tried to separate Vance and Davis. Power up your legal research with modern workflow tools, AI conceptual search and premium content sets that leverage Lexology's archive of 900,000+ articles contributed by the world's leading law firms. Vance v. Ball State University, 570 U.S. 421 (2013), is a U.S. Supreme Court case regarding who is a "supervisor" for the purposes of harassment lawsuits. Submitting a brief in favor of neither party, the Federal Government observes that the definition of supervisor should mirror the definition provided by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). Argued November 26, 2012—Decided June 24, 2013 Under Title VII, an employer’s liability for i.e. certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the seventh circuit No. Rather, according to the EEOC definition, a supervisor could also be one with the power to “direct the employee’s daily work activities.” The United States notes that the EEOC is the federal agency in charge of enforcing Title VII so the Court should give some weight to its interpretation of the statute. 23 Justice Alito was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas. Additionally, Ball State believes that application of a new standard by the Supreme Court would be helpful for the lower courts that will have to apply the standard in the future. If the hostile environment is created by an individual's co-worker, an employer can be held liable only for its own negligence with respect to the behavior. The Supreme Court’s Decisions in Ellerth and Faragher. Vance v. Ball State University case arose. Factors germane to daily supervision include: actual control over daily work activities, the victim’s knowledge of control over their daily work activities, a lack of on-the-scene access to a higher ranking employee for the victim, and temporary control of daily work activities, which only creates liability if the harm occurs during the temporary period. Vance began working for the Ball State University Banquet and Catering Division of University Dining Services in 1989. Rae T. Vann Norris Tysse Lampley & Lakis LLP (202) 629-5600 1501 M Street, N.W., Suite 400 Washington, DC … Case below: Vance v. Ball State University (7th Cir 06/03/2011) Official docket sheet Certiorari granted: June 25, 2012 Oral argument: November 26, 2012 Questions presented in petition for certiorari: In Faragher v. In August 2007, Vance reported that Davis taunted her by asking, “Are you scared?” and referenced the prior slapping incident. Keep a step ahead of your key competitors and benchmark against them. Workplace harassment based on race, color, national origin, religion or sex is prohibited by Title VII. Brief of respondent Ball State University in opposition filed. 11-556 Argued: November 26, 2012 Decided: June 24, 2013 Under Title VII, an employer's liability for workplace harassment may depend on the status of the harasser. They’re easy to understand and I appreciate that they are only as long as necessary to cover the essentials. (2013) No. Vance filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, claiming that she had been subjected to a racially hostile work environment in violation of Title VII, and arguing that Davis was her supervisor and that BSU was liable for Davis' creation of a racially hostile work environment. In May 2006, Vance alleged that Davis blocked her way at the elevator. In its brief, Ball State goes on to argue that, even with a broader definition of supervisor under Title VII, Davis would not fall into that category. Today the Supreme Court’s decision in Vance v. Ball State University reset the rule for when an employer may be held vicariously liable for an employee’s harassment. The district court found that Ball State could not be liable for Davis’s actions as a supervisor under Title VII because Davis did not have the power to hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer, or disciple Vance, and the periodic authority to direct the work of other employees did not make Davis a supervisor. Justice Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion in which Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined. The question presented is: Whether, as the Second, Fourth, and Ninth Circuits have held, the Faragher and Ellerth “supervisor” liability rule (i) applies to harassment by those whom the employer vests with authority to direct and oversee their victim's daily work, or whether, as the First, Seventh, and Eighth Circuits have held, the rule (ii) is limited to those harassers who have the power to “hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer, or discipline” their victims. National Partnership asserts that supervisor harassment derives from the overall employment environment, and that harassment will not end without employers making structural changes. If Vance wins, the definition of supervisor under Title VII will expand to include more than just those who can hire, fire, demote, promote, or discipline an employee. Ultimately, the Chamber of Commerce asserts that expanding employer liability too far creates a catch-22 between overly broad, yet ineffective, and narrow, yet effective, preventative measures. In 2005, Davis returned to the Banquet and Catering Division as a Catering Specialist, where she was responsible for supervising and providing leadership for kitchen assistants and substitutes. United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Ball State University Banquet and Catering Division. Davis did not have the power to hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer, or discipline Vance. Details: Vance v. Ball State University Posted Mon, June 24th, 2013 11:34 am by Kevin Russell This is an important employment law case that has been eagerly anticipated since it was argued in late November. Vance asserted that Davis was a supervisor although Ball State claimed Davis was not actually Vance’s supervisor. The theory behind this substitute liability for the employer is that a worker who is the victim of workplace bias is less likely to challenge a supervisor than a fellow employee, because of what the supervisor might do in response. Further, National Partnership argues that expanding employer liability to include direct supervisors will increase employer incentives to create better harassment policies, improve training, and improve monitoring. If you would like to learn how Lexology can drive your content marketing strategy forward, please email enquiries@lexology.com. Get Vance v. Ball State University, 133 S. Ct. 2434 (2013), United States Supreme Court, case facts, key issues, and holdings and reasonings online … Justice Thomas filed a concurring opinion. The United States notes that the EEOC definition of a supervisor focuses on the power an individual may have over another and whether or not the individual is in the “supervisory chain of command.” As a result, the United States asserts, the EEOC definition of a supervisor also includes control over daily work activities. The Seventh Circuit affirmed because its settled precedent requires a supervisor to have "the power to hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer, or discipline an employee.". university may not consider race unless held to strict scrutiny diversity shouldn't be the only reason for Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. She first worked as a substitute server, but she became a part-time catering assistant in 1991 and a full-time catering assistant in 2007. Both parties acknowledge that the power over an employee’s daily work could enable harassment. The Seventh Circuit concluded that Vance did not demonstrate that Davis had the requisite control over Vance to qualify as a supervisor, so the court therefore considered Davis as Vance’s co-worker. Vance advocates expanding the definition of supervisor either by finding the Seventh Circuit definition to be too narrow or by explicitly adopting the definition used by the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Vance began working for the Ball State University Banquet and Catering Divisionof University Dining Services in 1989. This meaning is both easy to administer and adapted to its purpose. Please contact customerservices@lexology.com. 42 U.S.C. In this case, the Supreme Court will resolve a circuit split on whether one must have the power to hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer, or discipline the victim of racial discrimination to qualify as a supervisor for purposes of employer liability under Title VII. Vance and Ball State agree and see the EEOC guidance as fitting within the Second Circuit’s restriction on liability to situations where the supervisory role enabled the improper treatment. Party name: Maetta Vance v. Ball State University, et al. Justice Alito delivered the opinion for the Court, in which Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas joined. Whether, for purposes of employer liability for racial harassment in the workplace, an employee must have the power to tangibly affect the employment status of the victim in order to be considered a supervisor. 11-556, holding that an employee is a "supervisor" for purposes of vicarious liability under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 only if the person is empowered by the employer to take tangible employment actions against the victim of workplace harassment. Rejecting the open-ended approach advocated by the EEOC's Enforcement Guidance, which ties supervisor status to the ability to exercise significant discretion over another's daily work, the Court agreed with the Seventh Circuit and held that the employer must have empowered the employee with the ability to take tangible employment actions against the victim, such as hiring, firing, promoting, or disciplining. Vance filed the action against Ball State in October 2006; however, the district court granted Ball State’s motion for summary judgment. By contrast, Vance argues that the Supreme Court should simply reverse the Seventh Circuit’s decision and remand the case. Faragher v. Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775 (1998); “I have found the articles in Lexology/Newsstand to be closely related to the topics I am interested in. The Court has concluded that Title VII incorporated principles of agency law in its allocation of liability to employers for their employees’ conduct. Vance v. Ball State Ball State An employee is a "supervisor" for purposes of vicarious liability under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act only if he is empowered by the employer to take tangible employment actions against the victim. In Vance v. Ball State University, decided June 24, 2013, a sharply divided (5-4) Supreme Court rejected the EEOC’s broad definition of “supervisor” in favor of a more restrictive definition. Vance filed suit in October 2006, alleging hostile working environment and retaliation claims under Title VII. Both Vance and Ball State assert that a “supervisor” under Title VII is not limited to those employees with the powers enumerated by the Seventh Circuit. VANCE v. BALL STATE UNIVERSITY ET AL. Title US Supreme Court Defines Supervisor Vance v Ball State University.pub Author gloverr Created Date 7/26/2014 11:42:04 AM Keywords () As the Seventh Circuit noted, if a supervisor is responsible for creating an abusive workplace environment based upon harassment, then the employer is responsible for the supervisor’s acts under Title VII. The Court held in Clinton v. Jones , 520 U.S. 681 (1997), that federal criminal subpoenas do not rise to the level of constitutionally forbidden impairment of the Executive’s ability to perform its constitutionally mandated functions, and here, it rejected the President’s argument that state criminal subpoenas pose a unique and greater threat. 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