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Beware of the cat’s paw – Theory of subordinate bias looms large in ADEA case


SKU: ELBnd112. Category: .


Abstract: The “cat’s paw” theory holds that an employer can be held liable for the discriminatory conduct of a supervisor who contributes to a termination decision. In a recent case, one discharged employee invoked this theory, but the court rejected his plea because it decided he would have been fired regardless of the claimed animus. Nonetheless, this article highlights the danger of placing too much influence in the hands of lower-level supervisors. A sidebar looks at two additional examples of what could trigger liability under the cat’s paw theory. Simmons v. Sykes Enterprises, Inc., No. 09-1558, June 2, 2011 (10th Cir.) Staub v. Proctor Hospital, No. 09-400, March 1, 2011 (Supreme Court)

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