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"As long as I have any choice, I will stay only in a country where political liberty, toleration, and equality of all citizens before the law are the rule." - Albert Einstein

Unanimous Supreme Court Gives Employees a Victory

Posted: March 1, 2011 Filed under: Case Law, Employment Law, Law-Related News

In Staub v. Proctor Hospital, a widely watched case involving what is called the “Cat’s Paw” theory of liability, the United States Supreme Court has unanimously determined that employers may be liable for wrongful or discriminatory termination even where the ultimate decision maker did not have discriminatory or unlawful motives.

For employers, the decision increases the risk of liability. That said, employers who conduct thorough, independent workplace investigations will have less risk than employers who do not investigate and verify the motives of lower-level supervisors who influence adverse employment decisions.

Staub arose under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), which protects service men and women from discrimination, but the decision will likely impact cases involving other forms of employment discrimination as well, especially those that require only that discriminatory intent be “a motivating factor,” such as claims arising under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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