On September 5, 2012, NELA, joined by AARP, filed an amicus brief supporting Petitioner Maetta Vance in Vance v. Ball State University, currently pending in the United States Supreme Court. Our brief was drafted by Professor Michael L. Foreman of the Penn State University Dickinson School of Law, with support from his students in the Civil Rights Appellate Clinic. The issue in this case concerns the appropriate definition of “supervisor” under Title VII.
Ms. Vance was the only African-American employee in her department, which provided banquet and catering services to the Ball State University campus community. She alleged numerous instances of fairly egregious, racially-motivated conduct in support of her hostile work environment and retaliation claims. Some of this conduct was engaged in by employees who arguably directed at least some of her day-to-day work activities. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, in an opinion by Judge Diane Wood, affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendant. In so doing, Judge Wood held that the definition of supervisor is limited to those who possess the power to “hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer, or discipline an employee.”
By contrast, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) developed guidance in response to the … Read More