Who’s your boss at work? It seems like a simple question, but there are few simple questions when it comes to working and labor law. Just ask the U.S. Supreme Court which today is hearing oral arguments in a case that goes to the definition of who is or is not your boss.
The background: federal law holds companies libel if bosses harass subordinates. If another employee harasses you at work, however, only that employee is liable for damages, not your company or place of employment, so the distinction becomes an important one if you want to sue for damages.
The case the court is reviewing involves an African-American employee at Ball State University in Indiana who claims another working who was in effect her boss harassed her. A U.S. court of appeals has ruled the worker in question was not a boss, however, because that person did not have the power to hire or free the harassed employee and so the university is not liable.
It might sound like a technicality, but the court’s decision will impact your worker rights, so it’s worth keeping on eye on it to see the result. Check here for updates as they become available.
John N. Frank