* Faith Simms is a 2021 summer associate at Troutman Pepper. She is not admitted to practice law.
Q: Can an employer be found liable for terminating an employee for misconduct after an investigation initiated by a biased supervisor?
A: In a recent decision issued by the Seventh Circuit, Vesey v. Envoy Air, Inc., the court held that the employer was not liable under the cat’s paw theory even though the investigation leading to the employee’s termination was initiated by a biased manager. The cat’s paw theory of liability applies to circumstances where a biased individual, who lacks decision-making power, influences the decision-maker into taking adverse employment action against the employee.