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Court Clarifies Harassment Rulings Using Ball State Case

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Photo: WFIU/WTIU News

Courts have disagreed on the definition of a supervisor.

The U.S. Supreme Court will use a lawsuit against Ball State to clarify its rulings on workplace harassment.

The Court ruled in a pair of 1998 decisions that employers can be liable for harassment if they‘re negligent in responding to the situation. But they‘re automatically liable if the harasser is a supervisor. Since then, though, lower courts have disagreed on the definition of a supervisor.

When a Ball State catering assistant accused a fellow kitchen worker of menacing her physically and using racial slurs, a federal judge and the Chicago-based Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals rejected her claims against the university because her co-worker had no power to hire or fire anyone

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