WASHINGTON – When does your co-worker also count as your supervisor? The Supreme Court may make a final decision on whether to draw a legal line between work colleagues and work managers, at least when it comes to harassment and retaliation claims, in connection with a Ball State University case.
At issue during oral arguments Monday was a decision by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which declared that only a person with the ability to fire or hire employees can be considered a supervisor, regardless of the person’s other duties.
But other federal appeals courts – and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – have a broader test, saying a person can be a supervisor if they have the authority to direct daily work activities and can undertake or recommend tangible employment decision affecting employees.
Antidiscrimination law prohibits creation of a hostile work environment, and supervisors are held to a higher standard than co-workers since they are in a position of authority. The justices are expected to make a decision sometime next year.