Monday morning I had the honor of observing the oral arguments for Vance v. Ball State at the United States Supreme Court. At issue in the case was how courts should define “supervisor” for the purposes of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination, including sexual harassment. This definition is important because it determines when an employer—in this case, Ball State University—will automatically be held liable for harassment perpetrated by an employee.
The plaintiff in the case is Ms. Vance, a catering assistant at Ball State University, who was the only African-American employee in her division. She alleged that she was threatened and called racially-motivated names by her immediate supervisors, and she suffered greatly because of it. However, Ms. Vance lost her case against the university when the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that for the purposes of Title VII, supervisors only include those people who can hire and fire employees. The individuals who harassed her did not have this authority, though they did oversee her day-to-day work. This decision reflects a continuing split among Circuit Courts, as other courts have held that supervisors should also include day-to-day supervisors. Read more »
MANuFACTuring statistic #1: In 2011 manufacturing employment increased for the first time in more than a decade, with annual average employment rising by 205,000 jobs. Unfortunately, women did not share in these gains. In fact, between 2010 and 2011 men’s annual average employment in manufacturing increased by 230,000 jobs while women’s dropped by 25,000 jobs. This divergence was a change from the trend during the recession, when the declines in manufacturing employment were borne proportionately by women and men.