Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Yes Virginia, the Supreme Court Does Matter - A Cat's Paw in the 5th Circuit

Although as an object fact we know that it is important when the Supreme Court issues a decision, see my discussion just above about the importance of a SOX case that will be decided next term, but it never hurts to be reminded.

That was just what happened when I read the 5th Circuit's decision in Haire v. Board of Supervisors of LSU (5th Cir. 5.21.13) which reversed a grant of summary judgment. Although that is still rare enough in the 5th Circuit to warrant a second look, what prompted this post was the difference that Staub v. Proctor, decided just over 2 years ago by the Supreme Court, made. (See With a Friend Like Justice Scalia ... Cat's Paw Decision Not Very Employer Friendly.)

Although the result might have been the same regardless of Staub, that's not what it sounds like. The case involved two LSU police officers vying for the Chief's job.  The male not only got the interim position, but also the ear of the Chancellor. Even though the Chancellor made the decision to select him, not Ms. Haire, the actions of the interim male Chief, were what made the difference, at least according to Judge Jolly who wrote for the majority.


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