Peoria Journal Star, March 3, 2011
The U.S. Supreme Court this week sided with a former Proctor Hospital employee who claimed he was fired by the Peoria, IL hospital because of his military service and, in the process, potentially resolved a long-standing legal issue regarding workplace discrimination. By an 8-0 decision, the Supreme Court agreed with Vincent Staub that his military service was a factor and that employers such as Proctor can be held liable for the actions of their employees. "An employer's authority to reward, punish, or dismiss is often allocated among multiple agents. The one who makes the ultimate decision does so on the basis of performance assessments by other supervisors," wrote Justice Antonin Scalia. "We therefore hold that if a supervisor performs an act motivated by anti-military animus that is intended by the supervisor to cause an adverse employment action, and if that act is a proximate cause of the ultimate employment action, then the employer is liable" under the federal anti-discrimination law for members of the military, Scalia wrote. The theory, dubbed the "cat's paw," has divided the appellate circuits as some wanted more direct links of bias along the supervisory ladder.