The Supreme Court has just issued its decision in Vance v. Ball State holding that an employee is a “supervisor” for vicarious liability under Title VII only if she has the power given by the employer to take tangible employment actions against the victim.  The Court defines “tangible employment action” to include actions that have a “significant change in employment status, such as hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a decision causing a significant change in benefits.”  In this opinion, the Court rejected the EEOC’s guidance on the issue which was that “an employee, in order to be classified as a supervisor, must wield authority of sufficient magnitude so as to assist the harasser explicitly or implicitly in carrying out the harassment.”

This is a win for employers as now only a select number of individuals will be viewed as “supervisors” whose actions can be attributed to the employer.