Ability to Assign Hours May Be Sufficient to Establish Supervisory Status


According to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, a foreman’s ability to assign hours of work may be sufficient authority to render him a supervisor for purposes of Title VII liability.

Under Title VII, an employer is liable for a supervisor’s illegal harassment of a subordinate. In Vance v. Ball State University, the U.S. Supreme Court stated that a supervisor is one who is “empowered by the employer to take tangible employment actions,” and it further clarified that a “tangible employment action” is a “significant change in employment status.” In Moody v. Atlantic City Board of Education, the supervisor in question could assign the employee hours, for which she would be paid, and this constituted a tangible employment action.

Thus, employers should keep in mind that, for purposes of Title VII liability, even low-level foremen or leadmen may have sufficient authority to affect compensation in some manner that will render them a supervisor, for whose actions the employer may be liable.