The ruling was so striking that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who leads the Court's liberal wing, read her dissenting opinions aloud in open court. This is never done.
Ginsburg virtually begged Congress to overturn the court's actions.
Here's the way law used to work until today. If a person was subjected to discrimination, he was required to report that to his supervisor. If his supervisor failed to act, then it could be presumed that the supervisor's actions were representative of the employer, in short the supervisor's lack of action made his employer liable for the discrimination. The SCOTUS decided today to insert a layer of deniability between bosses and their employers. They did this by changing the definition of supervisor.
The SCOTUS ruled that for a person to be considered a supervisor under the law, that person must be able to hire and fire someone. This holding sharply limits the ability of workers to complain against their employers and harder for workers to blame the employer for the actions of their immediate supervisors. This will make it virtually impossible for a worker to blame a business for a co-worker's racism or sexism. Why? Because all a company has to do is claim a "supervisor" can't hire and fire, thus he's not a supervisor. This is just another magic trick, another example of the government playing Wizard of Oz, shouting "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!"
The SCOTUS further ruled that victims must prove employers would not have taken action against them but for their intention to retaliate. In short, an employee has to prove that someone above his supervisor was behind the discrimination and prove that the discrimination and retaliation was specifically for the purpose of getting even with the employee for filing a discrimination complaint. In short, if you complain you're a victim of discrimination, you've got a target painted on your back and no law to defend you.
The ruling outraged the liberal voice on the Court. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in her dissent that the SCOTUS had "corralled Title VII," a law designed to stop discrimination in the nation's workplaces. "Both decisions dilute the strength of Title VII in ways Congress could not have intended," Ginsburg said. She then
virtually begged Congress to change the law and overturn the court. Conservative Justice Samuel Alito shook his head as Ginsburg read her dissent of his opinion. "The court's disregard for the realities of the workplace means that many victims of workplace harassment will have no effective remedy," she said.
Ginsburg made history when she stood firm in defense of workers, when she said, "Deferring to the powerful at the expense of the powerless, the Supreme Court majority has imposed a heavier burden for victims of workplace harassment and discrimination seeking justice in our court. This decision makes it far easier for employers to evade responsibility for discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Today, the ball again lies in Congress' court to correct this court's wayward interpretations of Title VII," she said. Bravo, Justice Ginsburg.
In the second case, Vance v. Ball State University, 11-556, Maetta Vance, who worked as a caterer at the university, accused a co-worker of racial harassment and retaliation in 2005. Vance sued the school under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, saying the university was liable since Davis was her supervisor. But a federal judge threw out her lawsuit, saying that since Davis could not fire Vance, she was only a co-worker, and since the university had taken corrective action, it was not liable for Davis' actions. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that decision, and Vance appealed to the Supreme Court.
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