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Lawyers Split on ‘Supervisor' Definition


Steve Miller, a partner in the Chicago office, was quoted in the October 25 Chicago Daily Law Bulletin article “Lawyers Split on ‘Supervisor’ Definition.” The publication reported on a U.S. Supreme Court case involving a dispute over who qualifies as a “supervisor” under Title VII. The case from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed previous holdings that “supervisors” include only those individuals with the authority to directly affect the terms and conditions of another worker’s employment. Such authority involves the power to hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer or discipline an employee. The plaintiff in this case is asking the court for a broader definition that includes individuals with the authority to direct another worker’s activities. Steve said the position taken by the 7th Circuit offers employers more certainty. ”With the 7th Circuit definition, you have some rules that employers can rely on in determining whether someone is a ‘supervisor’ for Title VII liability.” He noted that there are too many gray areas in a definition that includes individuals put in charge of co-workers but who do not have the final say on such matters as hiring and firing.


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