The U.S. Supreme Court will begin hearing oral arguments for the Vance v. Ball State University race discrimination case.
Maetta Vance, who was the only African-American in the banquet and catering department at Ball State University, claims that one of her coworkers subjected her to race discrimination that included “racial epithets, references to the Ku Klux Klan, veiled threats of physical harm, and other unpleasantries.”
Vance filed a race discrimination complaint with the EEOC and subsequently filed a lawsuit against the university.
The issue that the Supreme Court will decide on is whether or not Vance’s coworker can be considered her supervisor. The coworker was not technically her boss but was responsible for giving Vance her daily list of job-related tasks.
The Supreme Court has previously held that employers are liable for workplace harassment and/or discrimination carried out by the victim’s supervisor. In the event that the harasser is not the target’s boss, then the employer is not liable unless it is found to be negligent in its handling of the target’s complaint.