Employers Can Avoid "Cat's Paw"� Liability by Reviewing Personnel Decisions

Monday, July 27, 2009

Employers should conduct independent reviews of any proposed termination decision.

07/27/2009 / Story.KISSPR.com /

Although it may be tempting for a company to trust its front-line managers to make prudent decisions regarding the discharge of employees, Keith Clouse, a Dallas employment law attorney, believes employers should always conduct independent reviews of any proposed termination.  Doing so may avoid “cat’s paw” liability.

Cat’s paw liability refers to a situation where a biased manager without decision-making authority influences a company’s decision-maker to make an adverse employment decision. (The theory takes its name from a fable in which a monkey convinces a cat to scoop chestnuts from a hot fire.  The cat burns its paws, and the monkey eats all the chestnuts.)  Under this theory, a former employee may prevail in a discrimination lawsuit even if the employer establishes that its decision-maker did not act in a discriminatory manner (or even know that the affected employee belonged to a protected class) because the front-line manager’s discriminatory bias can be imputed to the employer. 

To avoid cat’s paw liability, a company’s decision-maker (usually a senior manager or human resources officer) should conduct an independent investigation prior to making an adverse employment decision.  Instead of simply relying upon information provided by a front-line manager, the decision-maker should interview witnesses, review relevant documents and, of course, speak to the affected employee.

To speak with an employment lawyer about workplace discrimination, please contact the employment lawyers at Clouse Dunn Khoshbin LLP at info@clousedunn.com.

Source: Story.KISSPR.com

Release ID: 8739