A ruling was made this week that has an effect on employment claims involving discrimination or retaliation in the workplace. The decision was made with a 5-4 vote, which means that four justices did not agree with the majority decision in one way or another.
One of those justices was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who wrote the two dissents concerning the issues decided. She wrote that "both decisions dilute the strength of Title VII in ways Congress could not have intended." What was the ruling that brings such concern to the justice?
The ruling involved two separate issues. The first concerned the definition of "supervisor" in these cases. In certain cases, a victim must prove that the discriminatory or retaliatory act was committed by a supervisor. But what qualifies as a supervisor? The Supreme Court ruled this week that one defining difference between a supervisor and a co-worker is the ability to hire or fire employees.
The second ruling involved the proof required for a retaliatory act. The majority ruled that a victim must prove not only that retaliation occurred, but that it would not have happened "but-for" a retaliatory intent from the supervisor.
What does this mean for an employee who believes that they are a victim of either discrimination or retaliation? It means that choosing the right attorney matters. It isn't just about the evidence that could be found, it is about how it is presented. A great attorney understands how evidence works together to satisfy the proof required for a victim to maximize the compensation they may be eligible for.
Source: The Washington Post, "Supreme Court makes it harder to sue businesses for discrimination, retaliation," June 24, 2013