Supreme Court Clarifies Definition of “Supervisor”

On June 24, 2013, the United States Supreme Court in Vance v. Ball State University clarified and narrowed the definition of a “supervisor” for purposes of vicarious liability under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The Court held that a person is a supervisor only if he or she has the ability to take tangible employment actions regarding other employees (i.e., the ability to hire, fire, promote, reassign with significantly different responsibilities, etc.). This ruling rejects the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s definition of supervisor, which includes employees who exercise significant direction over and control the day-to-day schedules and assignments of others.