Recent U.S. Supreme Court Decision Sheds Some Light on who is a Supervisor under Title VII

titleviiAs we all know, an employer’s potential liability under Title VII hinges, in part, on whether the alleged harasser is a co-worker or supervisor of the alleged victim. However, in some cases, the distinction between co-worker and supervisor can be unclear.  Many presumed that if the alleged harasser oversaw the work of the alleged victim then that employee must be the alleged victim’s supervisor. The U.S. Supreme Court in Vance v. Ball has held that an employee is a supervisor for purposes of vicarious liability under Title VII when that employee is empowered by the employer to take tangible employment actions against the alleged victim. Tangible employment actions include hiring, firing, promotion, reassignment, or another decision/action causing a significant effect on benefits or employment status.