Another employer gets its fingers burned by the cat's-paw theory

In many discrimination and retaliation cases, the decision maker who implemented the complained-of adverse employment action isn't the person who actually discriminated or retaliated. In such cases, the employee must demonstrate that the discriminatory or retaliatory animus of someone other than the decision maker caused the adverse employment action. This is known as the cat's-paw theory, a term borrowed from one of Aesop's fables in which a monkey convinces a cat to reach into a fire to get roasting chestnuts. The cat is fooled into doing so and burns its paw, and the monkey enjoys the chestnuts with no harm. In the employment context, the theory applies when a senior manager unwittingly takes an adverse employment action against an employee based on the recommendation of someone who harbors discriminatory or retaliatory animus toward the employee.

Read More...