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  • On June 24, 2013, the United States Supreme Court issued two opinions that will have a significant impact on employer liability in cases involving certain types of discrimination and retaliation claims. In the first case, Vance v. Ball State University,1 the Court held that an employee is a “supervisor” for purposes of vicarious liability under Title VII only if he or she is empowered by the employer to take tangible employment actions against the victim (i.e., to “hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer, or discipline” the employee). In the second case, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar,2 the Court concluded that plaintiffs claiming that their employer unlawfully retaliated against them for complaining about discrimination or harassment, or otherwise engaging in statutorily protected activity, must prove that their protected activity was the “but-for” cause of the employer’s adverse action, not simply one motivating factor among others

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