Is your supervisor a “supervisor” under Title VII? Supreme Court to decide soon

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that will clarify who is a “supervisor” when it comes to Title VII sexual harassment litigation. Under current law, an employer is vicariously liable under Title VII for severe or pervasive workplace harassment by the supervisor. If the harasser is a co-worker, however, the employer cannot be held liable absent proof of negligence. The case is set to clarify a circuit court split on whether an employer is vicariously liable for harassment by those with authority to direct and oversee the plaintiff’s daily work, or whether vicarious liability is limited to employees who have the power to “hire, fire, promote, transfer, or discipline” the plaintiff.The litigants in the case are Maetta Vance and Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Vance started working in the banquet and catering department at Ball State in 1989, and worked there for the next 18 years. She was promoted twice.  During most of her tenure, she was the only African-American in the department. Vance alleges that a superior co-worker, Saundra Davis, was verbally abusive towards her and once slapped her in the head. Vance notified the University about the incident but did not pursue a formal...