racial harassment case argued before the U.S. Supreme Court,
Vance v. Ball State University, raises a significant question, “Who is a supervisor?” Determining
whether a someone at work is a supervisor or not has serious consequences
in terms of liability. In many instances, if a co-worker is also considered
“a supervisor,” then an employer may be held “vicariously
liable” for the actions of the supervisor and be required to pay
compensation as a result of the harassing behavior.
Vance v. Ball involves the Title VII racial discrimination claim of Maetta Vance. Vance,
a black catering assistant at Ball State University, alleged that her
white co-workers and supervisors racially harassed her. Title VII prohibits
employers from discriminating against their employees “because of”
their race or color. That means that employers may not take your race
or color, or your perceived race or color, into consideration in making
If you have been subjected to race or color discrimination, consulting with an
Atlanta employment discrimination attorney is important to answer your race discrimination questions and determine
your next steps. Where discrimination is found to have occurred, you may
be entitled to compensation including front and back pay, emotional distress
and other compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.
Ball, Vance asserted that because one of her co-workers exhibited coontol over
her, directed her work and did not “clock in” like the other
hourly employees, that that co-worker should be considered a supervisor.
Although the appellate court disagreed, the Supreme Court has now taken
this question under consideration. It appears that courts across the country
are split on just what makes a co-worker a supervisor. In some courts,
the title of supervisor only applies to individuals who have the authority
over the formal employment status of an employee – i.e. the power
to hire, fire, demote, promote or transfer other workers. Other courts,
including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have a much simpler
definition, finding that if someone directs other employees’ daily
work activities, then they are a supervisor.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court asked the Solicitor General
to file a brief providing the government’s view on this important question.
Employment discrimination law may raise complex legal questions, a skilled
Georgia employment discrimination attorney understands the law and will
fight to ensure you are not subject to harassment or discrimination at
work. For more information contact the dedicated
Georgia race discrimination attorneys at The Buckley Law Firm, LLC, for a confidential consultation.