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Workplace discrimination cases made more difficult by SCOTUS

The Supreme Court of the United States made a couple of key decisions regarding workplace discrimination and retaliation cases, and neither was in favor of the victim of such an act. Many people here in St. Paul and all across Minnesota have had the unfortunate experience of being victimized in a workplace discrimination incident -- and they know the pain and embarrassment such an incident can cause. So to hear that the Supreme Court has made cases similar to theirs more pro-business is unlikely to sit well with them.

The two cases the Supreme Court handled involved workplace discrimination and retaliation. With the former, the question was what makes a supervisor "supervisory" when it comes to discrimination in the workplace?

That may seem like a stupid question to ask; but for legal purposes, it is very important. A supervisor by title may not be a "supervisor" by the law. Someone who commits a discriminatory act as a "supervisor" makes his or her employer liable for the incident too -- while someone who is not a "supervisor" likely will not rope his or her employer into the case. The Supreme Court decided that a "supervisor" has to have the ability to hire or fire an employee, rather than a previous, and looser, definition that said a "supervisor" delegated work tasks.

In regards to retaliation, the Supreme Court ruled that the person claiming retaliation must "prove a direct cause and effect." In essence, this ruling just placed a heavier burden of proof on the victim of a retaliation case.

Source: USA Today, "Court rules for business in discrimination cases," Richard Wolf, June 24, 2013

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