Bill Seeks to Reverse Pro-Employer Vance Decision

Members of the House and Senate on Thursday introduced legislation that would effectively overturn last year’s U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Vance v. Ball State University.  In Vance, the Court held that an employee is not a “supervisor” – and therefore does not subject the employer to vicarious liability under Title VII for the employee’s actions – unless the employee is empowered to take tangible employment actions against other employees.  The Fair Employment Protection Act (H.R.4227, S. 2133) introduced in the House by Reps. George Miller (D-CA) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and in the Senate by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), “corrects the error in the Vance decision and clarifies under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as well as other federal antidiscrimination statutes, who counts as a ‘supervisor’ for the purpose of holding employers responsible for unlawful harassment.”  

According to a fact sheet on the measure, the bill would “include not just those supervisors who can hire and fire, but also those who are in charge of an employee’s daily work activities, thus able to reassign an employee whom they are harassing.”  

Given the divided Congress, this legislation is not expected to advance this term.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.